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Rave reviews for 'Everyday Mathematics'

Original post made on May 4, 2009

Teachers and administrators from top school districts in Illinois and one in California report strong results after using "Everyday Mathematics," the controversial textbook adopted this week by the Palo Alto school district for use in K-5 classrooms this fall.
==B Related stories:==
■ [Web Link Palo Alto schools to get 'Everyday Mathematics']

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, May 4, 2009, 8:56 AM

Comments (22)

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Posted by DisgustedParent
a resident of Southgate
on May 4, 2009 at 2:59 pm

I just don't understand why this mathematics program is so expensive. I could understand the initial training but why is there an expense after that? What is it that is not being explained? Poway dropped the program after using it because of the expense. But if they have already been using it and have trained their teachers and staff why is it expensive to continue? If this program were so great wouldn't a district do anything to keep it? Is it just that the expense is an excuse to drop a failed program without looking as if you made a mistake? Is it only for districts with money to burn? I just don't get this.

Funny that after Skelly left the Poway district, EDM was dropped, and that Palo Alto adopted it after he gets here.

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Posted by Peter
a resident of another community
on May 4, 2009 at 3:15 pm

Sounds like the materials used in EDM are expensive -- a continuing expense. Do competing programs require this committment to recurring expenses?

Also sounds as if teachers, administrators, parents, children need a lot of support during what looks like a long (perhaps years) transition. That probably means lots of kids, parents, teachers, and administrators will be confused for quite a while during the switchover. What happens to the confused kids?

This statement by a Poway administrator should be taken as a caution: "We found that teachers did need to supplement the program around numeracy skills." Sounds like the basics still need to be taught. Why doesn't EDM address numeracy skills thoroughly?

Just wondering.

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Posted by tj
a resident of College Terrace
on May 4, 2009 at 3:29 pm

of course teachers say they like it -- it's easier for them to teach a dumbed down program rather than one that would challenge students or get them ready for the next step ....

this story is so typical of the weekly, always taking the side of authority figures and never challenging what they see in the press release ... how pathetic

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Posted by EcoMama
a resident of Community Center
on May 4, 2009 at 4:01 pm

I can't believe that the reporter of this story made the same mistake that Dana Tom made: she only checked with districts that use and like the program! The title could just as easily be "Everyday Math Ousted Due to Dropping Scores" -- from the ENTIRE state of Texas or a host of other dissatisfied Everyday Math customers!

This is shameful reporting. Facts need to be checked on BOTH sides. I'm starting to think that truth doesn't matter in Palo Alto.

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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 4, 2009 at 4:31 pm

The story spins off a recent news report--so not a case of checking ALL districts, more a news story.

But given that Poway has been brought up numerous times in these threads as an example of a district that dropped EDM, I think the Kenrick has provided a valuable service--turns out that Poway says it wasn't performance, but finances. I found it interesting.

Since we're a well-funded district shouldn't the fact that Poway had no issues with performance be a relief?

And I thought Palo Alto parents believed in spending money on their kids' education (God knows we all are just by living here.)

My guess is that the cost of the materials didn't go up as much as Poway like many districts in California had to cut costs.

So, if Palo Alto's math scores go up post-EDM will any of you eat crow? Or just swear it's Kumon and secret infusions of Singapore math?

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Posted by Tony Tucher
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on May 4, 2009 at 5:02 pm

Having watched the math wars in Palo Alto for many decades now, I continue to be amazed at how much heat they generate. I am sure that reasonable, knowledgeable people can disagree on the merits of a math text, but I am concerned about two issues in this debate: the idea that text books should be adopted on the basis of petitions to the school board and the lack of civility in the discourse on the topic.

We keep hearing that the substantial premium in Palo Alto house prices is due to the excellence of our schools. I happen to believe that is true. I therefore find it surprising that we have 700 people in the community, most of whom presumably are not trained math teachers, but who all believe that they are better judges of math text books than the teaching professionals who staff our excellent schools.

I have looked over the comments posted on this topic over the past few weeks and I am struck by the vitriol and personal attacks on school board members, administrators and teachers contained in so many of the comments. They diminish the writers not those being attacked. No wonder they are largely unsigned. Unfortunately, they also reflect very badly on the community we all purport to be proud of.

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Posted by really now
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 4, 2009 at 5:07 pm

OP, there is not a parent in this district who wants the district to fail at teaching their kids math just to prove a point.

We will never know whether EDM would succeed on its own because Skelly made clear that EDM will *not* be used in its pure form since it needs to jibe with the district's curriculum. To be precise, even at the meeting at which he recommended adoption, he claimed that EDM would not be enough and that EDM would have to meld with a program that stressed timely mastery, accountability and foundational practice. Fact is, if the teachers have a program in place by which they achieve this "melding" of EDM with actually teaching basic bath skills, EDM will not, per se, be the reason for that (though EDM will say it is as they do with similar districts they cite, and though we will be paying for it as if we are -- and I suppose paying for someone to create the bridge curriculum as well).

I do wonder where all this money is flowing from. Don't throw that "aren't parents in Palo Alto delighted to spend money for their children's educations" line out there -- parents do nothing *but* pay for their children's education in this district, and the district repeatedly acts as if the parents are misers who always need to be cajoled into doling out more of their hoard for those poor innocent kids who deserve better.

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Posted by Perspective
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 4, 2009 at 5:59 pm

Some perspective -

PiE Benchmark Schools: Of all the PiE benchmark schools, only Edina has used Everyday Math K-5 for any length of time. All its middle and high schools are under NCLB watch in math for minority students. (Willmette is new to EDM and rejected EDM for its 5th graders.)

In California -

Only 11 of the CA's 880 school districts used EDM before this adoption round. The two most like Palo Alto did not renew it (Del Mar and Poway). Four are not high performing. Conejo in Ventura County, since bringing EDM on board six years ago, had to close two of its schools when students moved to nearby private schools and to a new charter school started by parents who did not want EDM for their children. One very tiny, very rich school district with lots of private math tutoring kept EDM (Hillsborough). At least three have not decided yet.

Of CA's top 10 API unified districts, only 1 other picked EDM (Piedmont) and it is new there.

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Posted by CG
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 4, 2009 at 7:14 pm


"the idea that text books should be adopted on the basis of petitions to the school board" = strawman.

"most of whom presumably are not trained math teachers, but who all believe that they are better judges of math text books" = ad hominem + appeal to authority.

"I am struck by the vitriol and personal attacks on school board members, administrators and teachers" And I was struck by the vitriol, condescension and personal attacks on parents, but I got past it.

On the other hand, I know better than to trust the district ever again.

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 4, 2009 at 7:14 pm

One of our strengths in this district is involved, intelligent, and well-educated parents.

If you read the petition, the parents are not saying they know better than the teachers. They are saying the teachers only piloted TWO programs, and they were unable to pilot a third that both teachers AND parents preferred, because of a misunderstanding with the publisher early on. The PROCESS was the problem, BEFORE the teacher evaluation.

All the parents want is the opportunity for that third program to be evaluated -- and the publisher has now offered to provide the materials free -- along with EDM, with the final decision put off until next year.

What is unreasonable about that? Your contention sounds like a way to completely shut off any discussion, as if 700 elementary parents couldn't possibly have anything to say that would be important. I'd say that's just as bad as anything else when it comes to shutting down civil discourse.

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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 4, 2009 at 10:44 pm

really now,

I didn't say anyone wanted their kids to fail, I asked what would happen if the scores actually went up?

I'm not sure what you mean by "pure form"--math has always been *taught*. Our current textbooks aren't used in their "pure form" either--teachers supplement and adapt as a matter of course.

Since we're basic-aid--it's pretty easy to see where the money's flowing from--my property tax and yours, supplemented by things like PiE.


Thank you for putting some actual comparative figures out there. Nice and clear.

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Posted by politics
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 5, 2009 at 9:25 am


In a very nice way you are insulting the 700 parents that signed the petition.

I hope you read Parent's post above on what the petition was about, you seem to have missed that in all these weeks that yo have followed the story.

The failure in process is the responsibility of the district. The superintendent admitted that smarter superintendent's don't present this kind of fight to the board.

The two board members that stood against EDM had serious problems with it, and I encourage you to understand their concerns.

As for the votes that got EDM approved:

Klausner voted in favor of EDM with an eery analyis, first saying something along the lines of - let me be clear, I am not a proponent of Everyday Math, listed all the EDM gaps and holes, then proceeded to list the ways she had personally worked to find solutions to fill these gaps and holes, then concluded "now that I fixed it, it's better, and am 100% comfortable." She didn't vote on Everyday Math, she voted on her personally improved version. No matter the intention, this should give you pause.

Mitchell voted on the basis that teachers are" the secret sauce" in this district, so what they say rules. Teachers are great in this district, but could these same teachers achieve the same results with lesser motivated students? with students whose parents did not value education as much, or that did not do what parents do in this community, to support their schools? For the district to use data on high performing Math students saying "we're doing so good" without giving parents any credit is also reason for pause. They are quick however to blame parents for the achievement gap.

This was all about politics. And if you have watched this for many decades, are you really surprised?

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Posted by really now
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 5, 2009 at 10:29 am

OP, right.

Property taxes -- going down or staying stable. Probably getting reassessed so probably going down, if you've watched the real estate market.

PiE, which had to beg, borrow and steal to get to the goal for this year, because the economy is tanking and donations are down.

And the district is preparing to spend a lot more than ever before on a boutique program without explaining how it is going to fix the holes or pay to do so, let alone pay for the program itself. First they do this, then they insult the parents of the district, but they always keep coming back for more money, holding the kids hostage. The District is really wearing out its welcome by spending, spending, spending and then begging for more, apparently without any recognition that people's pocketbooks are taking a hit. You can't get blood from a stone.

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Posted by skeptic
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 5, 2009 at 12:20 pm

These programs cost a lot of money to retrain teachers and also in the extra supporting materials. To have these "new" programs tested in Palo Alto is a good way to give the new program good PR. Parents can often tell when their child is having problems with math and will resort to tutoring. Makes the new program look good and hides the wasteful spending with continuously creating new programs based on the old constructivist methods. Can't prove it, but if you look into the various new math programs you will see the similarities.

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Posted by Math Matters
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 5, 2009 at 9:21 pm

This was just posted on the blog for a previous PA Online story:

Posted by Jill from New Jersey, a resident of another community, 1 hour ago

I am a school board member from Bridgewater, NJ who spoke with a couple of Palo Alto Board Members two weeks ago who asked a few questions about Everyday Math.

I heard that the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District was mentioned during the Palo Alto School Board meeting and want to share the details of our districts 12 years' experience with the Everyday Mathematics program. I am posting this as an individual and am not representing the Bridgewater-Raritan BOE.

I'd like to start by saying that just a few months ago our Math Evaluation Committee (consisting of 35 K-12 teachers and 4 administrators) and the 9-member school board were unanimous in their desire to replace the 3rd edition of Everyday Math (2007) with a balanced, more traditional math textbook, HSP Math 2009 (Harcourt).

Before making the recommendation, our committee completed a very comprehensive evaluation of the program and also looked at several others programs. Part of their research was an analysis the National Mathematics Advisory Panel Final Report's key findings, including its anti-spiraling recommendation. It confirmed that Everyday Math's spiral was what the National Math Panel advised districts against adopting.

Here's a quote from the NMAP reprinted in our Report: The curriculum for grades K-8 should be streamlined. It should follow a coherent progression with emphasis on mastery of key topics, there should be a focus on the critical foundations for algebra, and any approach that continually revisits topics without closure should be avoided.

Three education and math experts were asked to review the draft of their evaluation report. All three felt that the evaluation was well-researched, well-written, extremely thorough, and not one disagreed with the committee's analysis/interpretation of the NMAP's findings. The experts who reviewed the report were Dr. Sandra Stotsky, an education researcher and panelist of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel, Dr. Jim Milgram, Stanford math professor, and Dr. W. Stephen Wilson, Johns Hopkins math professor.

While our test scores went up a bit while we had Everyday Mathematics, there was no way to conclude that those increases were attributable to Everyday Math. Our demographics have changed significantly with large pharmaceutical and computer company headquarters moving into our community, resulting in a large increase in the number of parents with advanced degrees in the sciences and engineering who provide substantial math help to their children at home. We also discovered that many families hired private tutors when they saw the work their children were doing in our Everyday Mathematics classrooms and noticed that their children were not mastering essential fundamentals needed for success in higher level math.

It was important for our district to look at Bridgewater's performance and that of comparable districts using traditional programs. A Chi-Square test we conducted confirmed, that when singled out, Everyday Mathematics negatively impacted student proficiency in math (details at page 92 of the first, 2007-2008 EDM Report Web Link ).

As part of the evaluation, we surveyed parents and teachers. 31% of K-4 parents and 47% of 5th and 6th grade parents were 'dissatisfied' with the Everyday Math program (15 and 10% were 'neutral'.) We also found that 85% of our teachers supplemented the program and almost 30% said Everyday Mathematics did not prepare students for success in math at the next grade level. (all results are in our reports)

We also looked carefully at how our students who struggled with math fared with Everyday Mathematics. A large number (7.5%) of general education students (no IEP's) needed intervention services for mathematics in our district. For our special education students, only about 40% tested proficient in math compared to the 60-65% or so in Warren and Chatham districts which use Harcourt. These numbers were despite our district providing our math IEP students with two teachers - the regular ed. teacher and a special ed. teacher in the classroom -- to provide them extra support.

We are a diverse, yet fairly affluent community with no shortage of resources, Everyday Math has been supplemented by teachers, and there has been ongoing professional development for our teachers. But after a complete evaluation examining the National Math Panel's recommendations, research on the "math wars", data collected from within the district, community expectations, and reviewing a full range of other textbooks the 39-member math committee could not recommend continuing with Everyday Math. They chose a program which was found to be more balanced and traditional and which met the high criteria they set for choosing "an ideal program".

Math Complete Report Jan. 2009 Web Link

Power Point Presentation to BOE Feb. 2009: Web Link

Jill Gladstone


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Posted by good for ohlone.
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 6, 2009 at 8:33 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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Posted by Local Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2009 at 10:53 am

These comments from the New Jersey school board member about EDM are very troubling, especially the negative impact on math proficiency. To have to spend a lot of money on that kind of program seems a real mistake. I'm surprised that our current school Board members would have not made more use of this kind of feedback. Is it not too late to pull back from large scale adoption of EDM....?

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Posted by jb
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on May 6, 2009 at 3:47 pm

What is in the textbook and the order in which it is presented is not the only determiner of what your child is exposed to in a school year.

Get out a copy of your child's grade report. Read all the entries down the left sides of the pages. Those are the state reqirements for mastery for your child in a year of California schooling. Whatever text is used, those are the targets your teacher is aiming for.

No teacher or grade level in a school is bound to teach in the order topics are presented in a text. Grade level meetings among teachers are focused on meeting the standards enumerated by the state requirements.

I wish parents could broaden the tunnel vision from this shimmering, blazing textbook to the curriculum your teachers will be presenting. You have no idea how many resources on line and in the pedagogy libraries of the schools are used to shore up the week's, the unit's, the semester's work. Then there is the periodic professional development required and sought out by teachers in the district. No child's education is taken verbatim and only from a single textbook.

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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2009 at 3:57 pm


then why is EDM so zealously being embraced by teachers?

why spend all the money?

why can't it wait one year?

why does EDM need to be adApted to PAUSD, not just adopted?

your wish has come true, parents are looking beyond the textbook and rightly questioned a flawed process.

many wish the tunnel vision proponents of EDM would also look beyond the textbook

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Posted by Jake
a resident of another community
on Sep 30, 2009 at 12:33 pm

What's missing from this article is the fact that the majority of the students in the Illinois districts referenced have regular math tutors. It's impossible to say that the test scores are something strictly compounded from EM.

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Posted by Shocked & Appalled
a resident of Nixon School
on Sep 30, 2009 at 2:38 pm

The wealthy areas who have EDM have outside help from tutors or math programs. Check the stats for the other districts (if EDM didn't wipe it out) and find that parents are infuriated and students aren't understanding EDM. Now, EDM execs will use Palo Alto as a selling point when in fact, unsuspecting customers will not know that parents are supplementing children.

1 person likes this
Posted by Alabama Teacher
a resident of another community
on Apr 9, 2010 at 12:30 pm

You know, I was reading these comments and found that there are so many teachers who judge a program and do not know anything about which they are talking. This is a fine math program. I taught it for 5 years when I taught in Georgia. I only wish we would adopt it here in Alabama. The texts are consumable which accounts for the ongoing cost. Many schools use workbooks which cost money each year so that can account for some offset since there is no additional workbook. The program teaches thinking skills and reasoning, two skills our young people desperately need to learn. A hands-on approach is used. Teachers who do not like the program are those who are used to sitting at their desks and barking out a lecture and ordering certain pages done by the students while they sit and grade papers or do their "thing" on the computer and then accuse the program of not teaching basic skills. The program does teach basic skills. Students acquire them faster when taught by the EDM method. Not only do students learn with EDM but teachers do also. I learned much from this program and I thought I knew math well before. These know-it-all people just irritate me with their skepticism and sarcasm.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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