Our math program content resembles what you might find in many challenging schools following a curriculum based on NCTM or State Standards. However, our incredible math success, which permitted us to exceed national standards that won us the 2014 National Blue Ribbon award rests on three qualities:
- Instruction using the registered trademarked math program Singapore Math®.
- Daily grade level math practice
- Outstanding classroom teaching
In Fall 2010, our school adopted Singapore Math® for our Kindergarten to 4th grade. This cutting edge math curriculum incorporates what experience and research show to be the most effective math instruction for elementary school students in the world.
Singapore Math helps students grasp place value, basic calculation, and master the “facts” and their multiplication “tables” before fifth grade. Students beginning in Kindergarten also learn the basics of problem solving skills they need to be great math students by the time they go to middle school: reading comprehension, modeling skills, writing mathematical equations, solving the problem, and answering the original question.
In first and second grade, students practice mental math and timed math facts (called math sprints) with a goal of completing as many addition or subtraction facts as they can in 60 seconds with 100% accuracy. By third and fourth grades, students master the multiplication tables up to 12 x 12 and strive for specific math sprints achievement of 60 facts in 60 seconds. We have students who have achieved 100 facts in 60 seconds — with 100% accuracy. Even we’re amazed at that. Though we use all kinds of real-world counting manipulatives and tools to help children grasp concepts, students who are still “counting on their fingers” by grade 5 will rapidly fall behind their peers.
Daily Grade Level Practice Using Simple Solutions©
Singapore Math® is still not enough, though, for math excellence. We enhance learning with a program called SIMPLE SOLUTIONS developed by a Catholic school math teacher in Ohio. Read about the “Simple Solutions” approach from its author in her article on math learning: Building Student Confidence and Raising Test Scores in Mathematics. We are convinced it works, and our math scores have risen considerably since we introduced the program in 2008.
How it works: In our K5 through 6th grades, students do daily Simple Solutions lessons where they review concepts covered (for example) last month and preview lessons they’ll see perhaps next month. This way, they’re constantly keeping a variety of skills in the forefront of their minds. Simple Solutions calls it “distributed practice.” Good teaching, structured review and purposeful practice make for math success for all students. It means “minutes a day, and mastery for a lifetime.”
We have been so successful at POPCS using the Simple Solutions© system with our children, that the company invited us to post on their website about our experience! Check it out HERE. You can also read about our 3rd, 4th and 5th grade teachers’ experiences starting HERE.
Middle School (Starting in 5th): Shifting Gears
Once students have mastered the elementary math skills that prepare them for middle school math, we move away from Singapore Math® and return to a high quality American math program. Beginning in 5th grade and continuing through 7th, we use the outstanding middle school math program published by McDougal Littell called simply “Math Course 1, 2, and 3.” This program presents math concepts in an easy to teach and easy to follow format. It integrates online flash video skill reviews, practice exercises, and even pre-skill exercises with EVERY CHAPTER. When students are finishing homework or studying for a test, for example, they can log-on to the chapter and unit of their textbook online to see an instructional presentation.
What if your child cannot achieve at this accelerated level before high school? We offer an 8th grade Honors Pre-Algebra that prepares students for Honors Algebra I in 9th. They can still do honors math in high school if they’re motivated.