|Does the instruction in Math
Advantage provide an opportunity for students to learn the benchmark ideas and skills?
Numerous sightings were analyzed to determine the instructional criteria ratings for Math Advantage. The following chart provides a typical example of the sightings that were analyzed to determine each criterion rating. Looking at these sightings will provide a picture of the overall instructional guidance provided in the textbook.
TYPICAL SIGHTING CHART (Adobe PDF document)
The graph below depicts major strengths and weaknesses in the overall instructional guidance provided by Math Advantage. It does so by showing the average score Math Advantage received on each of the 24 instructional criteria, across all six of the benchmarks used for the evaluation.
INSTRUCTION HIGHLIGHTS CHART (Adobe PDF document)
Overall, analysts rated Math Advantage as unsatisfactory in helping students achieve the number, geometry, and algebra benchmarks used for the evaluation. The following describes the seven instructional categories and their criteria and summarizes the analysts justification for their ratings for Math Advantage.
Instructional Category I
All chapters present a unit purpose through a set of objectives and a unit project, and the lesson purpose is stated on the opening page of each lesson; however, the effectiveness is inconsistent from one benchmark to another. The material addressing the algebra benchmarks does not provide a unit or lesson purpose. The same is true for material dealing with number ideas and skills. Material addressing the geometry benchmarks does a better job of providing a purpose for chapters and activities. In all cases, the rationale for the activity sequence must be inferred from the way activities are clustered.
Instructional Category II
For the most part, the material explicitly states prerequisite knowledge or skills in a variety of ways. However, for some benchmarks, such as the number concepts and algebra graph concepts, prerequisite connections must be inferred. Possible misconceptions and some ways for helping teachers identify these ideas are noted in Troubleshooting sections and Common Error Alerts, but there are few strategies or suggestions to teachers for dealing with these misconceptions.
Instructional Category III
A great variety of contexts are given for all the benchmarks except for number concepts. Students gain experience with a range of real-world contexts through investigations, teacher demonstrations, and discussions. The text is strong in including activities that promote firsthand experiences for geometry skills and ideas. There are some suggestions for firsthand activities for all benchmarks through Learning Labs and Idea Files; however, most lessons do not engage students in firsthand experiences.
Instructional Category IV
Math Advantage is inconsistent in building a case for the importance and validity of mathematics ideas. Although real-world applications are referenced, the mathematics content is sometimes de-emphasized, and the teacher must clarify and make the connections for students. The material does an effective job of introducing terms and procedures in conjunction with experiences and presenting accurate and comprehensible representations of mathematics ideas. For most benchmarks, there are clear connections among benchmark ideas. Overall, procedures are clearly demonstrated in the student text, although teacher commentary is weak. Practice is included throughout the material in a variety of situations, although most practice involves familiar tasks with little application.
Instructional Category V
The material provides opportunities for students to express and attempt to clarify their ideas about the benchmarks; however, there is little evidence throughout the material that students have opportunities to justify or interpret their thinking or get feedback from others. Most of the material addressing the benchmarks, particularly the number and algebra skills and concepts, is weak in guiding student interpretation and reasoning. The material does not identify opportunities for students to think about what theyve learned nor make suggestions to teachers on how to encourage this.
Instructional Category VI
Math Advantage is most effective in the alignment of assessment items or tasks with benchmark ideas. Assessment tasks are weak in requiring application of number and algebra equations concepts. While there are application level assessment tasks for some benchmarks, tests are primarily multiple choice items at the comprehension and knowledge levels. There is no evidence that the text effectively and routinely includes embedded assessment as part of the instructional design.
Instructional Category VII
There is little evidence of resources to help teachers improve their understanding of mathematics content or for creating an environment that welcomes curiosity, creativity, and healthy questioning for any of the benchmarks. Attention to diversity is evident in pictures including women, minorities, and persons with disabilities; however, there are no references to contributions by these groups to mathematics-related fields. There are suggestions in ancillary materials for modifying instruction for students with special needs.