November 14, 2006

No Discernible Effects

The What Works Clearinghouse has released a report on the research base of the elementary math program Saxon Math. The conclusion:

No Discernible Effects

Only one of the seven studies met the WWC's criteria with reservations.

Resendez & Manley (2005) reported no significant effects of the Saxon Elementary School Math program on overall mathematics achievement at grades 1–5. Using school-level data provided by the authors, the WWC confirmed that Saxon Elementary School Math did not have a statistically significant or substantively important effect on math achievement at each grade level from first to fifth grade. Based on this study finding, the WWC categorized Saxon Elementary School Math as having no discernible effects on overall math achievement.

The average performance gain was +7 percentile points which is not educationally significant. Compare this to the average gain of +12 percentile points for Everyday Math.

For both math programs, most of the results were not statistically significant.

I'd say that a school district has little basis to switch from whatever it is they are currently using to either of these math programs based on the research reviewed by the WWC.

7 comments:

Instructivist said...

A school I know switched from fuzzy math to Saxon and scores shot through the roof.

Should I believe my eyes or some research?

KDeRosa said...

Would you accept such a statement from someone touting the benefits of everyday math?

Anonymous said...

What Works Clearinghouse actually says that Everyday math has "potentially positive effects." I don't know how the studies were conducted, but this is just not consistent with my child's experience with the program. I know her experience is just anecdotal evidence, but there are too many other kids out there having problems and being tutored.

The structure of the EM curriculum just does not make sense to me. I have not used Saxon Math on a consistent basis with my child, so I don't know how good it is. However, I find its clear, direct explanations appealing.

I think I prefer Singapore to either program because it has a chapter-based, thematic approach.

RobynW

Instructivist said...

"Would you accept such a statement from someone touting the benefits of everyday math?"

It depends on the quality of the research. A lot of ed "research" is shoddy.

See this EM research:
http://www.reformk12.com/archives/000028.nclk

The Everyday Math materials arrived first. We were very impressed by all the research that they said went into the design of the program. They illustrated their results using four double-line graphs—one line in the graph represented Everyday Math and the other was a control group—each graph showing pre- and posttest results.
But in three of the four graphs the pretest was different from the posttest. This means that before the study, they tested the students using one form of assessment, then after the study they picked a different test entirely! These were the only graphs that appeared that the Everyday Math group did better than the control group, but once you factor in the switcheroo mid-experiment the data becomes meaningless.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what to think about the WWC. We homeschooled our teenager with Saxon, and it worked really, really, well. Made much more sense to him than the Connected Math his middle school was using. I have to admit I am surprised.

What does the WWC say about Connecting Math Concepts or Reading Mastery? Does the WWC like them?

Jessica

KDeRosa said...

The ""potentially positive effects" is ridiculous. That rating is based on three studies having statistically insignificant effects. There was one study conducted by an affiliated researcher that won't releases his data ...

These results are consistent with a program that doesn't work any better than traditional programs.

The Saxon research did show statistically (and educationaly) significant effects for computation, problem solving, and algebra, but overall performance in math was not improved.

This is not to say that Saxon (or Everyday Math) aren't the greatest things since sliced bread, just that their effectiveness hasn't been proven via research yet.

What does the WWC say about Connecting Math Concepts or Reading Mastery? Does the WWC like them?

Neither have been evaluated yet by the WWC. No doubt RM will be evaluated highly since it has much positive research behind it. CMC not as much.

SteveH said...

"Made much more sense to him than the Connected Math his middle school was using. I have to admit I am surprised."

This is not surprising for mathematicians, engineers, and scientists. As an engineer, what I find surprising is that CMP exists in the first place.