Did you know about Astoria High School's math curriculum?
You may have noticed a change in our math classes, one you may like or may even despise. This change is CPM (College Preparatory Math), a California nonprofit corporation dedicated to improving grades 6-12 mathematic instruction. Their mission is to empower math students and teachers through exemplary curriculum, professional development, and leadership, and to do this through their three pillars involving teamwork and collaboration. The question I am trying to answer, however, is this: Is CPM working in our school?
After interviewing teachers in the math department about similar subjects like assigned seating, stamp sheets, and their overall thoughts on CPM, I received congruent responses from all of them. The overall result on the subject of assigned seats was expected. Not having assigned seats resulted in more work being completed and turned in. They think that this was because of students sitting by individuals they are comfortable with. There were no comments on our “stamp sheet system.” The “stamp sheet system” in geometry, algebra II, and precalculus is as follows: students receive an individual stamp on each “daily work” assignment you complete. You also only get a stamp when your whole group has completed the problems. The general overview of CPM was that teachers all agree CPM is working better than any previous system. There is still one problem though, and that is the stamp sheets.
To give a personal example of how this “stamp sheet system” is hindering the math performance of our students in the Astoria High School, I am going to tell you about an average day this week. I am sitting in math class when the bell rings. I sit in a group of four, just like everyone else in my class. I sit by three males, let’s say they are named Ben, Vince, and Georgy. Georgy sits to my right, Ben to my left, and Vince across from me. Ben and I decide to get right to business. We finish all of our work for the day, which was very hard, and raise our hand for our teacher to come stamp our sheet. He arrives and says “Make sure that your group members are all caught up, then I will stamp your sheets.” This is precisely the problem, the students are expected to teach their peers, and I am not the only one who finds this to be true.
After handing out two hundred surveys asking five questions to six randomly selected advisory class periods, I have a very compelling argument against the “stamp sheet system” with the student body backing it up. Out of the two hundred surveys, I received one hundred and fifty-one back. This is around thirty percent of our school’s students. Three of these questions had interesting answers, these questions were: Do you know what CPM is? Do you prefer working in groups or alone? and Is your current math group hindering your math performance?
For the first question, 50% knew what CPM was and 50% did not know. When asked whether they prefered group work or individual work, it was 50% group, 42% individual, and 8% for both. The overwhelming statistic is that 60% of the people who took the surveys stated that their math group was hindering their math performance, and 40% said that it was helping. This means that even the people who enjoy working in groups are finding them hindering their math performance. The truth is, people don't want to have to teach their table partners. This is very clear from the survey responses. I may not be able to answer my question of whether or not CPM is a good fit for AHS, but I do know one thing: the “stamp sheet system” needs to be replaced.