Susan Midlarsky

author • consultant • tutor | inspiring excellence
Professional Development Singapore Math US Education

How Far Can Singapore Math Take You?


An article appeared in the Lowell Sun yesterday, and this article triggered more questions than answers in my mind.

Among other things, the North Middlesex Regional School District found spotty improvements in math test scores. The article said:

Brady and Muir discussed how the district’s use of so-called Singapore math is problematic. “We think Singapore math has taken us as far as it can,” Brady said.

Muir added that Singapore math does not align with MCAS frameworks but that the district is looking at other textbook publishers.

This raised some red flags for me. Singapore Math took them as far as it can? I don’t think so, because the curriculum can take students very far indeed – if it’s implemented correctly. I’ve had third grade students tackling sixth grade problems with ease and confidence after using the program. I’ve also seen how far above the level of the math students in even high-performing school districts my Singapore Math students have been.

Not only that, but one of my earlier posts links to a longitudinal study in Massachusetts, the same state as this article covers, showing that Singapore Math does indeed raise test scores – the same test as the students in the Lowell Sun article took.

So my questions are: how much, if any, help did the teachers receive in implementing Singapore Math? What levels of textbook did they use, and were they the right levels for their student population? Was it a rolling adoption or done all at once, so that the students at the highest grade levels were left with the least foundation? What struggles did the teachers have, and what types of support were they given?

Appropriate professional development is necessary to implement any new curriculum well. If this district wants to switch to yet another curriculum, will they provide the training required to equip the teachers for student success? If not, they will just be setting the stage for another failure.

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