'Singapore math' comes to the U.S.

Oct. 1, 2010 at 12:40 PM
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NEW YORK, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- A New Jersey school district says it has adopted a new method for teaching math modeled on the highly successful teaching system in Singapore.

They hope to emulate the success of the Asian country, whose students have consistently scored at or near the top on international math exams since the mid-1990s, The New York Times reported.

The Franklin Lakes, N.J., district joins dozens of U.S. school districts adopting Singapore math as worry grows that U.S. students lack the high-order math skill requires for success in a global economy.

Singapore math devotes more time to fewer topics, taking time to make sure children master the basics through detailed instruction, questions and problem solving, using visual and hands-on aids like blocks, cards and bar charts.

Educators say slowing down the learning process provides students with a solid math foundation to prepare them for increasingly complex skills and makes it less likely that they will forget and have to be retaught the same basics in later years.

"Our old program … did not do that," said Danielle Santoro, assistant principal of a school in Brooklyn, N.Y., that introduced Singapore math last year for all 700 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. "One day it could be money, the next day it could be time, and you would not get back to those concepts until a week later."

Singapore math was developed by that country's Ministry of Education nearly 30 years ago.

The earliest adopters in the United States were home-school parents and a small number of schools that had heard about it through word of mouth.

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