# Interactive Math Makes For Active Learning in Philadelphia

October 20, 1996Students who might not be expected to perform well in mathematics are beating the odds in the Philadelphia public schools -- passing challenging courses at rates 20 to 30 percent higher than their peers -- using materials developed with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The successes are particularly striking at Ben Franklin High School, a typical inner city school where 62 percent of the 9th grade students enrolled in the Interactive Mathematics Program (IMP) passed math. The passing rate for students in traditional math courses hovers at 40 percent. Nearly 84 percent of the IMP students passed science as compared to 52 percent of other students.

Luther S. Williams, the head of NSF's education and human resources directorate, said the IMP results prove that the U.S. can achieve the national education goal of global preeminence in math and science despite U.S. students' middling performance on the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).

A variety of education reform projects supported by the NSF, he pointed out, include a body of materials to effectively teach sophisticated math and science to students at all grade levels, regardless of their race or economic background.

But, Williams added, the IMP findings also confirm NSF's belief that effective education reform -- based on national standards for math and science teaching -- requires a national consensus on the goals of math and science education. NSF also believes that the U.S. educational system is a uniquely decentralized one when compared to other nations in the TIMSS study so the impetus to change must come from the state and local level.

"Simply put," Williams said, "the existence of exemplary and effective materials alone will not improve the odds of better practices and more learning by all students. The decision to use those materials rests with state and local educators."

The success of the IMP materials in Philadelphia is especially encouraging in light of the data contained in

*, which reports that U.S. math teaching generally is devoid of challenging content. U.S. students perform at, rather than above, the international average in such mathematically dependent subjects as chemistry and physics.*

**Pursuing Excellence**Demonstrating a strong compatibility with the "best practices" of high-achieving nations in the TIMSS study, the IMP materials are designed to eliminate tracking, or the assignment of students to courses on the basis of perceived abilities. IMP materials change the way that math is taught so that in any given school year students may concurrently learn concepts from geometry, algebra, trigonometry, and discrete mathematics.

The IMP materials also develop a range of skills in various areas of math, including how to use math to communicate and how to use computers and graphing calculators -- handheld devices put the calculating and graphical power of an early microcomputer into a student's hands -- as mathematical tools.

Although designed primarily to improve math and science education, IMP instruction also appears to have a broader ripple effect on overall academic success, with 74 percent of the IMP students passing English, according to officials in Philadelphia, as compared with 52 percent of the students who take traditional math.

-end-

National Science Foundation

## Related Mathematics Articles from Brightsurf:

A new method for boosting the learning of mathematics

How can mathematics learning in primary school be facilitated? UNIGE has developed an intervention to promote the learning of math in school.

Could mathematics help to better treat cancer?

Impaired information processing may prevent cells from perceiving their environment correctly; they then start acting in an uncontrolled way and this can lead to the development of cancer.

People can see beauty in complex mathematics, study shows

Ordinary people see beauty in complex mathematical arguments in the same way they can appreciate a beautiful landscape painting or a piano sonata.

Improving geothermal HVAC systems with mathematics

Sustainable heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, such as those that harness low-enthalpy geothermal energy, are needed to reduce collective energy use and mitigate the continued effects of a warming climate.

How the power of mathematics can help assess lung function

Researchers at the University of Southampton have developed a new computational way of analyzing X-ray images of lungs, which could herald a breakthrough in the diagnosis and assessment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other lung diseases.

Mathematics pushes innovation in 4-D printing

New mathematical results will provide a potential breakthrough in the design and the fabrication of the next generation of morphable materials.

More democracy through mathematics

For democratic elections to be fair, voting districts must have similar sizes.

How to color a lizard: From biology to mathematics

Skin color patterns in animals arise from microscopic interactions among colored cells that obey equations discovered by Alan Turing.

US educators awarded for exemplary teaching in mathematics

Janet Heine Barnett, Caren Diefenderfer, and Tevian Dray were named the 2017 Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award winners by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) for their teaching effectiveness and influence beyond their institutions.

Authors of year's best books in mathematics honored

Prizes for the year's best books in mathematics were awarded to Ian Stewart and Tim Chartier by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) on Jan.

Read More: Mathematics News and Mathematics Current Events

How can mathematics learning in primary school be facilitated? UNIGE has developed an intervention to promote the learning of math in school.

Could mathematics help to better treat cancer?

Impaired information processing may prevent cells from perceiving their environment correctly; they then start acting in an uncontrolled way and this can lead to the development of cancer.

People can see beauty in complex mathematics, study shows

Ordinary people see beauty in complex mathematical arguments in the same way they can appreciate a beautiful landscape painting or a piano sonata.

Improving geothermal HVAC systems with mathematics

Sustainable heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, such as those that harness low-enthalpy geothermal energy, are needed to reduce collective energy use and mitigate the continued effects of a warming climate.

How the power of mathematics can help assess lung function

Researchers at the University of Southampton have developed a new computational way of analyzing X-ray images of lungs, which could herald a breakthrough in the diagnosis and assessment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other lung diseases.

Mathematics pushes innovation in 4-D printing

New mathematical results will provide a potential breakthrough in the design and the fabrication of the next generation of morphable materials.

More democracy through mathematics

For democratic elections to be fair, voting districts must have similar sizes.

How to color a lizard: From biology to mathematics

Skin color patterns in animals arise from microscopic interactions among colored cells that obey equations discovered by Alan Turing.

US educators awarded for exemplary teaching in mathematics

Janet Heine Barnett, Caren Diefenderfer, and Tevian Dray were named the 2017 Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award winners by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) for their teaching effectiveness and influence beyond their institutions.

Authors of year's best books in mathematics honored

Prizes for the year's best books in mathematics were awarded to Ian Stewart and Tim Chartier by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) on Jan.

Read More: Mathematics News and Mathematics Current Events

Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.