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Topic: Evaluation of M.G. Maths. Textbooks
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 13,526
Registered: 12/3/04
Evaluation of M.G. Maths. Textbooks
Posted: Mar 7, 1999 2:09 PM
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[Note: From the timss-forum and the
http://project2061.aaas.org/matheval/index.htm website.]
**********************************************

MIDDLE GRADES MATHEMATICS TEXTBOOKS:
A BENCHMARKS-BASED EVALUATION

Project 2061 --- http://project2061.aaas.org

American Association for the Advancement of Science

January, 1999

In a rigorous analysis of 12 middle school mathematics textbooks,
only four recently published series received high ratings, while the
other more well-established textbooks were rated as unsatisfactory,
according to Project 2061, the long-term math and science education
reform initiative of the American Association for the Advancement of
Science (AAAS).

"The good news is that there are excellent math textbooks now
available for middle school students. It is imperative that these
books become the textbook of choice in more classrooms if we are to
reach our goal of developing students who are math and science
literate," stated Dr. George Nelson, director of Project 2061.

The evaluation was conducted by independent analysis teams made up
of classroom teachers and college and university faculty who had
extensive knowledge of mathematics content and of research on
teaching and learning. Using a procedure developed by Project 2061,
the analysts evaluated textbooks on how likely they are to help
students achieve six key learning goals from Project 2061's landmark
"Benchmarks for Science Literacy." These benchmarks are consistent
with the widely accepted standards developed by the National Council
of Teachers of Mathematics. The benchmarks deal with number and
geometry concepts and related skills, as well as algebra equation
concepts, and algebra graph concepts.

A key feature of the Project 2061 evaluation is its analysis of how
successfully the textbooks supported teachers in their efforts to
help students learn. The analysis teams reviewed specific
instructional strategies that textbooks provide for each benchmark
idea or skill. To evaluate the quality of these strategies, the
analysts applied a set of 24 research-based instructional criteria
to specific lessons, activities, teacher notes, assessments and
other evidence.

Good News:

* There are a few excellent middle-grades mathematics textbook series.
* The best series contains both in-depth mathematics content
and excellent instructional support.
* Most of the textbooks do a satisfactory job on number and
geometry skills.
* A majority of textbooks do a reasonable job in the key
instructional areas of engaging students and helping them
develop and use mathematical ideas.

Bad News:

* There are no popular commercial textbooks among the best rated.
* Most of the textbooks are inconsistent and often weak in
their coverage of conceptual benchmarks in mathematics.
* Most of the textbooks are weak in their instructional support
for students and teachers.
* Many textbooks provide little development in sophistication
of mathematical ideas from grades 6 to 8, corroborating
similar findings of the Third International Mathematics and
Science Study.
* A majority of textbooks are particularly unsatisfactory in
providing a purpose for learning mathematics, taking account
of student ideas, and promoting student thinking.

"States and school districts are bombarded with information from
textbook publishers claiming their materials are aligned with
benchmarks and standards. The Project 2061 analysis gives busy
educators the solid information they need to make informed choices
about which textbooks will help their students improve their
understanding of and skills in mathematics," stated Dr. Gerald Kulm,
who led Project 2061's evaluation. "It's important to note that our
analysis describes a textbook's potential for helping students
learn-to be used effectively, excellent materials require excellent
and well-trained teachers."

As benchmarks and standards for student learning become the focus of
education reform efforts in more states and school districts,
textbooks play an increasingly important role. The National
Education Goals Panel, for example, has characterized textbooks as
"the nation's de facto curriculum," calling for "an independent and
credible 'consumer reports' review service" to inform educators,
policymakers, and the general public about "the degree to which
instructional materials are aligned with challenging academic
standards...." This evaluation answers that call.

"Middle Grades Mathematics Textbooks: A Benchmarks-Based Evaluation"
is available online at http://project2061.aaas.org/matheval/index.htm.
Print copies will be available at a later date from Project 2061. For more
information, contact Mary Koppal, (202) 326-6643,
e-mail: mkoppal@aaas.org.
-----------------------------------------------
Project 2061 staff:

Gerald Kulm, Program Director
Laura Grier, Project Coordinator
Kathleen Morris, Senior Program Associate
Mary Koppal, Communications Director
Susan Shuttleworth, Assistant Editor

Reviewers:

The analysts who reviewed and rated the text were experienced mathematics
teachers, and university mathematics and mathematics education faculty,
trained in the use of the Project 2061 procedure. The reviewers were evenly
divided between experienced, practicing classroom teachers and mathematics
educators who were knowledgeable about research on mathematics learning and
teaching. All of the reviewers were highly capable in mathematics content.

Reviewers were formed into 12 two-person teams, at least one of whom was an
experienced classroom teacher. The reviewers were:

Donna Cook, Crossett Brook Middle School (VT)
Joe Cook, Paige Academy (NY)
Michele Crowley, Northern Kentucky University
Peg Darcy, Louisville Schools (KY)
Mark Deegan, Springfield (VA) High School
Sassan Dehghan, University of Maryland
Kay Dighans, Quaw Elementary School (MT)
Florence Fasanelli,Washington, DC
Ben Flora, Morehead State University (KY)
Mary Ellen Foley, Louisiana State University - Shreveport
Steve Hayes, Largo High School (MD)
Willis Johnson, University of Kentucky.
Bill Kunnecke, Marshall County (KY) Schools
Jan McDowell, Noe Middle School (KY)
Alice Mikovch, Western Kentucky University
Joan Montgomery, Pilgrim Christian Academy (NY)
Linda Montgomery, Berea County (KY) Schools
Sue Reehm, Eastern Kentucky University
Kay Rienke, Oklahoma State University
Patty Schumacher, Telford County (PA) Schools
Faye Stevens, Cadiz County (KY) Schools
Diane Surati, Crossett Brook Middle School (VT)
James Telese, University of Texas - Brownsville
Sri Viswanathan, Fairfax County (VA) Schools
Connie Widmer, Northern Kentucky University
Grace Wood, Fort Peck Community College (MT)

Textbook Series Reviewed:

Connected Mathematics. Dale Seymour Publications, 1998
Heath Mathematics Connections. D.C. Heath and Company, 1996
Heath Passport. McDougal Littell, 1996
Math Advantage. Harcourt Brace & Company, 1998
Math 65, Math 76, Math 87. Saxon Publications, 1997, 1995
Mathematics in Context. Encyclopedia Britannica Educational
Corporation, 1998
Mathematics: Applications and Connections.
Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, 1998
Mathematics Plus. Harcourt Brace & Company, 1994
Mathscape. Creative Publications, 1998
Middle Grades Math. Prentice Hall, 1997
Middle Grades Math Thematics. McDougal Littell, 1999
Middle School Math. ScottForesman-Addison Wesley, 1998
Transition Mathematics. ScottForesman, 1995

Note: Although we analyzed Math 65, Math 76, Math 87 ( Saxon Publications,
1997, 1995), this series' philosophy, organization, and format (e.g., its
teacher edition provides answers to exercise problems but no instructional
guidance or support; its student edition is organized by daily lessons
rather than units or chapters) were not well suited to a benchmarks-based
evaluation. The Saxon series is not included in the overall comparison of
textbooks, but a report on our analysis of it is available in Part 3.

*************************************
*
Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 USA
Fax: (618)453-4244
Phone: (618)453-4241 (office)
E-mail: jbecker@siu.edu





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