What is the most effective way for a parent to give the school feedback about math textbooks and teaching? Who actually makes the decision about how math is taught? Do other high schools in the area use the same approach for math that BHS uses? I'm asking because math at BHS isn't working for my kids at all, and I am trying to figure out what to do about it.
As I understand it, the approach at BHS is for the kids to learn math on their own and from each other, with little or no instruction from the teacher. They work in groups, reading text and then working problems. They may be graded as a group, and they are encouraged to turn to their group for help, not to the teacher. The math my kids are taking is called "CPM Math", which I believe stands for "College Prep Math". The approach no doubt works for some kids, but it is failing my kids miserably and there does not seem to be any alternative but to watch them fail and suffer at math throughout their time at BHS.
Neither of my kids is on the math "fast track" - i.e., they didn't take Algebra 1 in 8th grade. I'm not that familiar with the different rankings and terminology, so please excuse my ignorance here!
My older son as a freshman didn't pass the second semester of CPM Alg1. He did not like doing math in a group, it was too slow, and he complained that the class was boring. Though he did OK on tests, he stopped doing homework and taking part in class and he got a D the second semester. He had to retake the entire year of Alg1 as a sophomore. I met with the head of the math dept. and he told me in order to get credit for Alg1, there was no other alternative but for my son to sit through the same boring class again, day after day for a second year - a pointless and frustrating waste. He made C's the second time around. This past summer, he took an entire year of geometry in 6 weeks at Piedmont High School. It was expensive and it was intense, but he wanted to catch up to his classmates. He worked hard and got a B+ for the class and he was able to get back on track with Alg 2 as a junior. This was a big boost for his self-esteem and all of his schoolwork has improved substantially this year as a result. But now we are back to the same problem with Alg2. Example: my son tells me he is having trouble understanding how to do matrix multiplication. That's hard - I know. He says another kid in the class asked the teacher to go over it again, and her reply was "If you don't know how to do it by now, I'm not going to be able to help you." My son and his friends believe the teacher does not know how to do matrix multiplication and that is why she didn't explain it. This may not be the case, but it is the impression the kids have because the teacher's role under the CPM method is not to teach.
My younger son, a freshman, is now struggling through Algebra I, doing quite poorly. His teacher was kind enough to phone me, to let me know about his poor performance. I told her that my kids do not learn well with the way math is taught at Berkeley High. She was sympathetic, but said that this method has been shown to work very well for some kids, and unfortunately she cannot teach to each child individually. So it looks like we are headed down the same path with child number 2.
What can I do at home? There are several math and engineering degrees in the house between the two of us adults, so there should be plenty of help at home, you'd think. But CPM homework problems must be solved using things we have never heard of, such as "Algebra Tiles" and "Guess and Check Charts". My son does not know what these things are either -- he probably didn't read the text. I decide to look through the textbook to try to find out. I should have done this before - it is an eye opener. I cannot detect a structure to the book. Chapters have names like "Choosing a Phone Plan", so it's hard to get a fix on how to find things. I can't spot any examples of Algebra Tiles flipping through the pages. It looks like a lot of word problems interspersed with text passages. Most every page has cartoons and the kind of cutesy drawings that teenagers make fun of. I resign myself to reading through the text. Inspirational maxims and motivational quotes are sprinkled throughout. There is a surprising amount of social theory for an algebra book. Some of the longer text passages turn out to be justifications for the CPM style of teaching. On page 21, for example, I find a page entitled "Understanding the Role of the Teacher". This passage explains that some students think "the teacher is the enemy" or "the teacher is out to get them" because "they do not recognize the style of teaching CPM uses." It adds "you may get frustrated ... but this is normal" and goes on to explain that the goal of CPM is for a student to "become a strong thinker, not a tape recorder." It's followed by a set of fairly dogmatic questions students should answer after reading it. There are more passages like this later in the book, which gives me the impression that frustration must be a common side effect of CPM, and so time must spent in Algebra class explaining why CPM is used. One passage says to go back and read page 21 again if you are still frustrated. No wonder my kids are turned off by this class. No wonder they don't do the reading. I never did locate an explanation of what an Algebra Tile is - it must be in there somewhere but it's bedtime by now so I finally just tell my son to take my word for it - X times X is X squared, not 2X, and we work through the problems using the non-CPM method.
I am worried that when it comes to math, my kids are going to be neither strong thinkers nor tape recorders, but just a pile of blank tapes. There are many interesting careers that require a decent math background, and I fear those career paths are being closed to them right now while they are still in high school. My younger son is taking after me and enjoying computer programming, but I know he needs math to get into a CS program. I don't see how he is going to get the math background he needs under the current system. It is not about the teachers, it's about the curriculum. My kids are not only turned off by this teaching method, they have become cynical, and hostile toward math in general. I have to say after reading the Alg 1 textbook, I don't blame them.
I don't know whether to cut back on my own work so I can teach them math, or hire a tutor, or think about another school. I like BHS a lot, and so do my kids, but math is important. I would like to give the school my feedback, but I just don't have the spare cycles to spend on the phone and in meetings with teachers, department heads, principals, and school board. I need to do something now for my two kids who are not learning math. I would like to hear from other parents about whether they have had a similar experience, how they dealt with it, and realistically what my options are.
I believe BHS teachers want to be effective and want their students to learn, but that they were taught a general learning philosophy in education schools that kids learn best through discovering patterns themselves. No method works for all kids. When that philosophy was applied to the language arts in the "whole language" curricula, it was disastrous for kids who couldn't discern the patterns on their own and needed direct instruction. Whole language created many "curriculum casualties" who were misdiagnosed as learning disabled. I just attended a learning disabilities conference in Concord where Marian Joseph, a member of the Calif. School Board and force behind the California Reading Initiative spoke passionately about this (her thing is that these teaching methods need to be based on educational research that proves they are effective, and whole language was not).
If you have the resources, I recommend you get him into tutoring from a trained educator who can teach him directly. Even if you worked full time on curriculum reform, it probably wouldn't change in time to help your child.
In response to the letter about "Math curriculum:" I, too, am concerned about math at BHS. My son (a junior) has struggled through math at BHS so far. He also finds the approach that is used to teach it hard to follow, the classes endlessly boring. So far, he's managed to do pretty well grade-wise (B's and an occasional A), but it has been quite a struggle, and it seems that his learning of it is entirely up to him. He often struggles with the concepts, but never expects to get clear explanations from any discussion that occurs in class...and he clearly (and bitterly) experiences that he has not been helped to understand it by his teachers. (He has found one or two teachers who he feels can explain the material clearly, and will sometimes ask them for help at lunch....unfortunately, they have not been his assigned teachers.)
One of my concerns is that my son has come to loathe math. And that's a real shame. When he understands it, when he "gets" it, I get a glimpse of real satisfaction--what a great thing to see! But most of the time, he's so frustrated in trying to do it without prior explanation, that his experience of it is very negative. He's also very interested in computers and programming, and to pursue that, he will need more math. But he sees the math classes as some kind of punishment.
Last year, at open house, a group of frustrated parents from our son's math class all went to talk to the math chair because the teacher seemed unreceptive to hearing that our kids were all having difficulty with the lack of explanations. One of the things he talked about was the "way math is taught now" where students are supposed to try to figure out how to do it first, with explanations coming second. It seemed quite bizarre, to me. Certainly, finding a way to engage the students in thinking about what they're doing, makes sense. But I have the impression that this "way to teach math" is being enforced, without much flexibility or creativity. Or perhaps it works for some teachers who know how to use the method, but not for other teachers, who perhaps have not been trained in how to integrate this method into their classroom. Certainly, from my son's descriptions, the method seems more like spend-too-much-time-trying-to-do-it-first, find-someone-to-explain-it-after-you-fail (if you're lucky). And what about the fact that people learn differently?
I don't consider that we've "dealt" with this issue. More, I feel like we "keep dealing" with it, every week. In previous years, his dad or I would try to work through it with him. He's now at a level where we don't understand the math, so we can't be of much help, except to try and help him locate explanations or examples in the textbook. The daily grind for me is to keep stressing that it really *is* important to keep doing his homework, as best he can, and to find someone to ask, when he gets stuck. As he gets older, and as he gets *another* math class he hates, it gets harder for me to present this in a way in which he can hear it! I keep crossing my fingers and hoping that one of these years he'll get a teacher who knows how to present math in a way that is interesting, that helps him understand it, and who can communicate why it's important to know...and how he'll use it. From his perspective, none of those things are happening now.
By the way, at some point in the last couple of years, the CPM books-with-cartoons gave way to more standard looking text books. I think the one for Geometry was better (don't remember clearly). I find the one he has this year hard to follow (Math Analysis). We also have a younger son who will be at BHS in a couple of years. I would love to see something shift in the math program.
I agree with the parent who said math instruction is incomprehensible to students. My child is having a hard time as well in BHS algebra and geometry.
The CPM math has some real holes. Like in alegebra I they don't learn about absolute value. Then in geometry the teacher assumes they know it. Both my student and I were much happier when she moved into a more traditional math course with honors geometry. I hope this option is still open.
The other hole is lack of drill. I know drill isn't stylish. And it is boring. But the "aha!" moment doesn't work to imprint the idea in the brain of every student. Sometimes they just have to do a few problems to remember how to do it on the test. It seems pretty silly for parents to be creating drill for their individual student, when more than a few students need it. Teachers don't even have to collect it or grade it. Just give the kids the answers and let them do a few problems to get some practice. There are other problems, but these two are on my mind at the moment.
to the parent who wrote about math instruction at Berkeley High. My oldest son went from Willard to Berkeley High (He's now at UCSB). Until group work started in middle school, he liked math and considered himself good at it. When group work started he began to feel lost. He would try to do the work, but often other group members would just space out. The teacher would send the kids back to the group. This approach did not work for him. He dropped out of Trig because he was flunking and didn't want the f on his record. In our meeting with the head of the math department who also happened to be his Trig teacher, the explanation was - you either get it or you don't, there is really nothing I can do. Kids are in the dark and then all of a sudden boom, they see the light.
It seems to me that theoretically this approach is attractive and therefore has been adopted by the Berkeley Schools. The idea is full of faith in the student's raw ability to rise to the occassion, figure out the problem, ideally by brainstorming with other students. Admirable. However,teaching as an activity defined as the transmission of knowledge becomes obsolete under this framework. The danger is that the teacher becomes just a monitor, not even a facilitator!
I'd love to hear from a middle school or BHS math instructor or an administrator on this subject.
I am also concerned about my own son's frustration with the 'group learning' method used in his math class. My son is not an outgoing, social person, and neither am I, so I understand his difficulty in asking his classmates for help in learning the math.
But, I think it's more than that. At the Open House night, his teacher gave the parents three numerical questions to answer, and wanted us to experience the 'group learning' by discussing, while he stepped out of the room. We quickly agreed that no one in the room could even guess at the answers, so the discussion was over. When he returned and we had no answers nor guesses for him, he shared how often he is surprised by the knowledge some student reveals when he gives his classes these types of answers. When I asked him, "What are your students supposed to do when they can't guess, and don't know where to start?" The teacher didn't answer my question.
My son tells me that when he doesn't understand a concept in his math class, his teacher tells him to ask his classmates for help. My son isn't inclined to do that; he's already asked the teacher, and if he isn't getting help there, he's going to give up. It shouldn't have to be that way.
The only thing I've come up with is to encourage my son to make use of the tutoring available at school, and hope he does.
Re: CPM math - My kids both have "PCM" (Pre-College Math, otherwise known as integrated math) at Northgate High School in Walnut Creek - in the Mount Diablo Unified School District, this is being phased in at high schools. Our experience has been similar to the writer's who wrote about BHS and the textbooks used there. The textbooks our kids use have unfamiliar terms to us parents (in our household we have two science/engineering and two technical/professional degrees), with terrible indexing - many of the unfamiliar terms are not indexed; chapter names don't relate to math concepts, etc. I recall distinctly from my high-school days that my math texts used terms that were different from what my parents were familiar with, making it difficult for them to assist me. That's not a new problem with PCM math, but the inadequacy of the PCM textbooks in addressing this problem is glaring. In fact, the textbooks I have seen are so bad that it calls into question the validity of the approach - it begs the question that if the subject cannot be well-organized in a textbook (I have seen several) perhaps there is something inherently poor about the approach.
Our oldest child's freshman year teacher allowed as how that year, finally, they had found a textbook that was "not too bad"...those of previous years had been unacceptable to her, I gathered. "Not too bad" is a generous description of that book. The textbooks do make an effort to show the real-world relevance of the math concepts being presented but I have the same reaction as the writer re BHS: the organizing principle of the books is puzzling and there is a lot of sociological material that is thinly (if at all) related to the math material.
The MDUSD commissioned a report on the progress and success of the PCM program; their own report shows that grades have dropped steeply and parents and students are dissatisfied, although the report claims that test scores have not dropped; however, at the time of the report the PCM program was not fully phased in, so it's perhaps hard to tell what the effect has been (I'm anxiously awaiting our junior's PSAT scores.) Most tellingly, the report showed the amount of training teachers had received for this new treatment of math: a handful of district teachers received brief training (one day, I believe) from the textbook publishers and this handful of teachers, in turn, trained other district teachers in one-day trainings. In my opinion, this is the key to the failure of the PCM program (I strongly believe it has been a failure - my kids had Algebra in 8th grade and started as freshmen in PCM II. PCM II and III were a disaster for our oldest; too early to tell for our current freshman.) At least in our high school, the kids are not required to teach each other, and the teachers don't refuse to re-explain concepts, although you may have to see them outside of class to get help - they make themselves available during study period and sometimes after school.
This situation reminds me of the "Whole Language" fiasco of recent years whereby phonics was de-emphasized in favor of a method that leaned more toward "see and say" in the teaching of early reading and whole class cohorts were shortchanged. There again, as with PCM, it was argued that the method was more wholistic and was suited to the learning styles of many students. Unfortunately, for both programs it appears that they are suited to the styles of a minority of students, not the majority. "Whole Language" seems to have largely faded from the scene; its failure was evident after a few years.
It seems a terrible shame to me that programs devised from current educational theory are being foisted, largely untested, on our children, only to fail them. The two curriculum areas I have mentioned are crucial. Reading is the foundation of all learning; and math grades in high school really, really matter. It's so unfair and harmful to do mass experimentation on our children - and to implement it poorly, to boot!
I strongly suspect that eventually PCM (or CPM, or Integrated Math) will be abandoned and more tradtional methods of math instruction will return to high schools.
I would be most interested in hearing if others have a different point of view about Integrated Math. I already know that some kids do well with Integrated Math, but in our school, that is a minority for whom perhaps this teaching style is a good match.
Oh no, CPM math! My children HATED it. (My son and daughter both had it for Honors Algebra 1 at King. My daughter had it for Honors Algebra 2 at BHS. Thankfully, this year, my son at BHS has an Addison Wesley textbook for Algebra 2.) They had the same complaints: very boring, mysterious structure, lots of word problems with no explanations, etc. etc. They also sometimes had problems figuring out what to do for the homework (and my husband is a math teacher who usually knows about weird stuff like multiplication tiles). My daughter used to say that with CPM either the material was so simple that the problems were pointless or that the material was so poorly presented that you couldn't figure it out. If she didn't understand a concept, the book was no help at all. (I'd like to note, however, that two of the teachers involved were truly outstanding and that all three teachers expressed frustration at using this program. Also, probably because these were honors courses, all three teachers made some effort to supplement the book.)
We and other parents complained. At back-to-school nights (and this is early in the year) it was clear that many of the kids and parents had the same complaints about CPM. I had several conversations with the then chair of the BHS math department. There was no timely response. (Although I guess the fact that three years later my son doesn't have CPM is a response.) My daugher plodded very unhappily through a whole year of CPM Algebra 2. (Only a great math teacher the next year, I think, salvaged her interest in math.)
And here is the thing that is so difficult: there seems to be no way to help our specific children at the time that they need that help, to work for the changes for the children we know best. What can we do to help our children in timely way for them? Things move so incredibly slowly on these items. Meanwhile, many are losing interest, doing poorly in math. These kids are only in high school once. A change in math programs (or reading programs, or sex education, or whatever doesn't work for them) five years from now doesn't much help our kids. (And realistically, how many of us will still be active in our childrens schools, PTA members, etc. when our own children are no longer attending?)
Here are two things I did to address curriculum and scheduling problems at Berkeley High. (Ms. Saunders: maybe these are no longer options? However, they were helpful in addressing my child's needs quickly.) My daughter took a UCB High School Extension correspondence course for the second semester US History. (Three years ago, I think this cost about $350 and all high school subjects were available. My daughter had a regular book, written assignments, etc. The teacher corresponded directly with her: lots of feedback.) She also took two semesters worth of foreign language working with a tutor. (No credit for that one, but she advanced for the next academic year, and, according to the college counselor, the issue for colleges was level attained not number of years studied.)
I understand that it is sometimes possible for students to take required courses at Vista or Laney. Of course, this is crazy: why can't our kids take the courses they need at their own school? But again, as parents, I think we have to be responsible for helping our own children when they need help. Do they have to waste another whole year with CPM. Is it fair (or responsible) to our children for us to wait through years' long processes of curriculum review and evaluation?
And why only one math program, anyway? Surely, it should be possible for there to be an alternative if one approach doesn't work. CPM's non math problem, I think, is that it is SO idiosyncratic. I think far better to have a conventional math program with CPM (or other) available for students (and parents) who need or want another style.
(And, if there are parents whose students enjoyed CPM, I would like to hear from them, too.)
Since there appears to be no math textbooks for years on end (at least in elementary and middle school) we came across this very helpful website when trying to look up some formulaes that our student professed never to have seen before and the parents (without a math textbook to look it up) couldn't remember off the top of our heads. This website also, we are told, is where some math teachers actually get some of their problems (or from the original source material which is repeated on this website). They have Puzzles Of the Week too! Happy math travels with Dr. Math! http://forum.swarthmore.edu/students/middle/
I truly _hate_ CPM for its lack of clear structure and inferential approach to learning. But I also recognize that it might work quite well for some students. I disagree with the criticisms of the sections in the Algebra book about "Role of the Teacher" and the like -- they really are essential for anyone to understand what's going on with CPM's approach to learning. The problem, in my mind, is twofold: CPM is sufficiently different from traditional math instruction that kids in the Berkeley public schools may not be prepared to handle it (e.g., algebra tiles, guess & check, and a host of other unfamiliar techniques.)
It is outrageous that one can't transfer out after failing or doing poorly in CPM the first time around. That should be rectified.
My son took Algebra I at King in 8th grade in the CPM program. I'm not sure whether this is exactly the same as IMP, but my impression is that they are at least similar in approach. Students at BHS can elect either CPM/IMP or the "traditional" sequence. I'd guess it is harder to switch from "traditional" to "CPM/IMP", than to go the other way, because CPM doesn't follow the traditional lines of high school math division.
The emphasis in these programs is on "discovery" rather than "instruction." It may well work for _some_ students with _certain_ teachers, but not for all. The theory behind it is sound enough -- when students "discover" mathematical principles for themselves, they integrate the knowledge more deeply than if they "just learn rules." However, "discovery" can and does occur regardless of the textbook's approach. It is the "Aha!" experience that we have when our minds finally fit the pieces together. In the end, the quality of the teacher and text, and most importantly your child's particular learning style, make a big, big difference.
The CPM/IMP approach is not for all. Whether it will work well for any given child depends very much on his/her learning style. Some kids do better when they begin with a clear statement of the underlying theorem or principle, rather than being forced to "discover" it by example as CPM/IMP requires. My son had always handled math easily but had a terrible time with CPM Algebra precisely because its deductive approach runs counter to his learning style and personal strengths and weaknesses. But others of his peers seemed to do well with it. I can't say enough good things about his teacher at King, Mark Delapine, but the program just didn't work for this kid. (he is now in Mr. Ward's Honors Geometry class, which uses a "traditional" approach, and seems to be getting it just fine again.)
Finally, if you want to be able to help your child with their homework, you will probably have a harder time in the CPM/IMP sequence. Be sure to get the parent's manual ($10 by mail) ASAP and be prepared to do a lot of work.
This whole discussion of math classes and the math teachers' responses (which I've been hearing since my daughter, who graduated in 1997, was at Berkeley High) reminds me of some discussions among colleagues in my field. People who argue rigidly for something that conforms to a certain theory they believe in regardless of other peoples' clinical experience that there are cases where it doesn't work and something else works better. My daughter did OK with the "discovery" method of doing math, although she complained about it (from what I hear, many kids do). My son did OK until this year, when he couldn't deal with it and with a particular teachers' style and just opted out and failed. I personally would much prefer the old way of the teacher explaining the material, it worked fine for me and, I think, would have been better for my kids. I understand that for some kids the current method works better. This just argues for OPTIONS. There are certain teachers and teaching styles that are better-suited for certain kids. This needs to be addressed.
Although in some respects there are many options at Berkeley High, the current policy of not allowing kids to change teachers even if a teacher is totally incompatible with the student is a disaster! Anonymous (4/00)
Math is a problem. But it has not been the only problem. Remember Whole Language? The powers that be decided that kids didn't need to know which sounds went with which letter of the alphabet. That failed. Phonics has become stylish again. Thank goodness.
Similar problem with math. Oh, kids don't need lecture, they don't pay attention anyway. Kids don't need drill, they think it is boring.
Problems are created whenever people try remove ways to learn. We should be adding, not subtracting, ways to learn.
And the whole group learning process is a mess. The know-it-alls in the group cause confusion for everybody. I think that none of the teachers my kids had taught them group process or group dynamics. They just throw them in a group. Judging from the groups I have seen, very few of them work. Although it is a sight to behold when it does. Anonymous
I was "tipped off" when my daughter was in 8th grade to avoid the IMP math track when she got to BHS. The reasons this involved PTA mom gave me were the same as the ones you stated: kids dependent on each other for grades and learning, etc. Is IMP the same as CPM? My daughter took the traditional geometry, algebra 3-4, etc. and did fine. We had a choice. Has this changed? Anonymous
CPM Algebra with HonorsI have a math question. My daughter will be a sophomore next year, and is considering taking the CPM Algebra II that also has within it the honors option. Seems like they do the CPM in class and have extra assignments for the honors part. Does anyone have experience with this? Does it work for some kids? Is it the best or the worst of both worlds? This year she began in Honors Geometry, but transferred after one quarter to regular geometry. In the honors class she couldn't follow the teacher (learning style difference? rigid style of teacher?); in regular geometry, she sails through with little work or challenge. Thanks. Anonymous (4/00)
A reply to the question regarding CPM Algebra II with the honors option. My son, a sopmore is currently taking this course with the honors option. The honors option involves some extra homework problems and "honors" questions on quizzes and tests. In addition the "honors" students in his class are required to tutor Algebra I students 4 hours a grading period at the Math tutoring center. My son doesn't see why more people don't take the option, as it isn't much additional work and what have you got to lose? The only issue so far is actually getting the Honor's credit on the report card/transcript. Karen
For those of you who aren't aware, as I wasn't, CPM has a website (http://www.cpm.org/). In addition to information about the math curriculum, history, data, and teacher training, you can order a parent guide to help understand each level and work with your child (http://www.cpm.org/current/index.html#order - about the middle of the page). There is also a Supplement with additional practice problems. I've been reviewing the ones I ordered and have found them very helpful. Joan
Does anyone have any first-hand experience with the IMP math track at Berkeley High? Does anyone know a student who actually completed four years of this program to know how well prepared they were for SATs, college math, etc? I know that teachers need to be specially trained to teach IMP so not all teachers at BHS teach it. Are the teachers who do teach it good? The IMP (integrated math program) is the "alternative" track for math at Berkeley High which does not follow the traditional algebra/geometery/adv algebra/math analysis/calculus route but rather covers all of them in a more "experiential" way. Some say that the IMP program is for math 'incompetents'. Also, once you begin on the IMP track it is not possible to switch back to the traditional track without losing ground. Any feedback welcome.
I think your kids are in IMP math (Integrated Math Program). My sophomore is in the traditional track. I chose it because it is more structured than IMP. But even there, the algebra book jumped around a lot and was confusing. I've been told by an excellent King Middle School teacher that IMP is the "wave of the future." If it isn't working, parents and kids need to speak up!
My daughter took IMP math and did well in it. She is now 23 and a graduate of Cal. When her little brother started high school, I asked her what she thought of her math program. She said it probably helped her with an understanding of general math in the real world, but she did terribly on the math SAT's because she had no understanding of the algebra and geometry. A neighbor of mine whose husband was asked to evaluate the IMP program said it has "holes" in it and recommended that it not be adopted by the high school. But his suggestion was ignored.
Re The IMP Math Program: I realize this was discussed a few newsletters ago, but my daughter is home from college for Thanksgiving and happened to bring it up, and I thought her observations worth sharing. Basically, she really enjoyed the program at Berkeley High, and did very well, but she said that she missed many things she is now having to deal with in college math. I will paraphrase her comments- "Its great as far as being able to apply math concepts in your daily life, but if you are going to continue on the math/science road, its better to stick with the more traditional offerings. I feel that I am really behind- and am not doing well, because I never had some of the material we are dealing with now, in a basic college class- or if i did have it, it was presented in a completely different way." She tells me now that she is having trouble with the testing style, since in IMP, they were always allowed to use their notes!!! So, I am not a happy camper- while it is ultimately most valuable to be able to understand how mathematical concepts work in the real world, if the program does not prepare you for the world of college math as well, then you are at a real disadvantage!! If you plan to major in the liberal arts, however, and do not plan to take any more math classes, perhaps its the way to go!