- Saxon (teaching method)
Saxon math, developed by John Saxon, is a teaching method for incremental learning of mathematics. It involves teaching a new mathematical concept every day and constantly reviewing old concepts. Early editions were deprecated for providing very few opportunities to practice the new material before plunging into a review of all previous material. Newer editions typically split the day's work evenly between practicing the new material and reviewing old material. Its primary strength is in a steady review of all previous material, which is especially important to students who struggle with retaining the math they previously learned.
In all books before Algebra 1/2 (the equivalent of a Pre-Algebra book), the book is designed for the student to complete assorted mental math problems, learn a new mathematical concept, practice problems relating to that lesson, and solve a varied number of problems which include what the students learned today and in select previous lessons -- all for one day's class. This daily cycle is interrupted for tests and additional topics. In the Algebra 1/2 book and all higher books in the series, the mental math is dropped, and tests are given more frequently.
The Saxon math program has a specific set of products to support
homeschoolers, including solution keys and ready-made tests, which makes it popular among some homeschool families. It has also been adopted as an alternative to reform mathematicsprograms in public and private schools. Saxon teaches familiar algorithms and uses familiar terminology, unlike many reform texts, which also contributes to its popularity with parents who equate what they were taught in school with what everyone needs to know about math.
Replacing standards-based texts
By the mid 2000s, many school districts were considering abandoning experiments with reform approaches which had not produced acceptable test scores. For example, school board member Debbie Winskill in
Tacoma, Washingtonsaid that the non-traditional Interactive Mathematics Program (IMP)"has been a dismal failure." Speaking to the board, Mount Tahoma High Schoolteacher Clifford Harris noted that he taught sophomores in another district Saxon Math, and their Washington Assessment of Student Learningscores have continually climbed. The Saxon program gives students plenty of chances to review material so they retain their skills, he said. That's not the case with IMP, he said in an interview. [ [http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/story/6051712p-5310251c.html Back to basics on kids’ math: Alarmed by low scores, Tacoma school officials OK added Saxon textbook] . Debby Abe; "The News Tribune" (Tacoma WA) August 25, 2006(Scroll down)] In September 2006, Tacoma Public Schools introduced the Saxon books district-wide and rejected the previous IMP textbooks. [ [http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/opinion/2003674945_sundaymath22.html New-age math doesn't add up] . Bruce Ramsey; "Seattle Times" (Seattle WA) April 22, 2006]
Critics sayfact|date=October 2007 that Saxon Math is too repetitive, has too many large numbers, and takes too long to get into new concepts. Although it provides many practice opportunities for some concepts over time, it never goes back to others.
Some teachers complainfact|date=October 2007 that the method is overly rigid, lacks creativity for both teachers and students, and reduces mathematics to strictly simplistic procedures applied by rote. It focuses on algorithms which can be applied mindlessly in a "plug and chug" or "turn the crank" approach. Some students complain that Saxon does not foster hands-on learning experiences or that the constant review is boring. Success with the Saxon program may depend in part on the learning style of the individual student.
* [http://www.saxonpublishers.com/ Saxon Publishers website]
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