Roxbury Public Schools

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Questions and Answers

  • What is Singapore Math?

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    In the U.S., the term “Singapore Math” often refers to a collection of math teaching strategies common in Singaporean classrooms. Sometimes it describes the full math curriculum used in Singapore for grades K–6. Singaporeans do not use this phrase.
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  • Why are people interested in Singapore Math?

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    In an international assessment of student math achievement (the TIMSS Report), Singapore has been one of the top ranking countries since 1995.
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  • What is the TIMSS Report?

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    TIMSS stands for Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study. Click here to learn more about the TIMSS Report.
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  • What makes Singapore Math such a strong curriculum?

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      1. Singapore Math emphasizes the development of strong number sense, excellent mental-math skills, and a deep understanding of place value.
      2. The curriculum is based on a progression from concrete experience—using manipulatives—to a pictorial stage and finally to the abstract level or algorithm. This sequence gives students a solid understanding of basic mathematical concepts and relationships before they start working at the abstract level.
      3. Singapore Math includes a strong emphasis on model drawing, a visual approach to solving word problems that helps students organize information and solve problems in a step-by-step manner.
      4. Concepts are taught to mastery, then later revisited but not re-taught. It is said the U.S. curriculum is a mile wide and an inch deep, whereas Singapore’s math curriculum is said to be just the opposite.
      5. The Singapore approach focuses on developing students who are problem solvers.
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  • What are the differences?

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    First, it’s important to recognize that there is no single “U.S. approach.” In this country, most curriculum decisions are made at the local or state level. In Singapore, the Ministry of Education determines what will be taught nationwide. 

    That said, certain elements of the Singapore approach are distinctly different from what’s typical in the U.S. Although some of these strategies may be used on their own in U.S. schools, it would be rare to find all of them in an American classroom that is not adopting or supplementing with Singapore Math.

     Examples include: 
      1. Model drawing and an emphasis on the concept of part-whole that precedes the teaching of model drawing
      2. Mental math
      3. Daily activities to build on teacher-directed lessons
      4. “Look and talks” to build understanding of mathematical language
      5. Number bonds, ten frames, and place value charts
      6. The connection of pictures, words, and numbers
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  • What are the differences that would have an impact on student achievement?

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      1. The country of Singapore is about the size of the city of Chicago. 
      2. Singaporean teachers are among the most respected professionals in their country. 
      3. Parental support for education is huge in Singapore. 
      4. Singaporean teachers get more training and have more prep time than most U.S. teachers. They also work longer hours, averaging 10- to 12-hour days. 
      5. Most Singaporean primary-school classes have 30–40 students. 
      6. Daily math classes in Singapore are usually 60 minutes in length. 


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  • Where can I access Frequently Asked Questions about Singapore Math?

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    Visit . 


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