Everyday Mathematics is one of a number of relatively new math programs developed around the NCTM standard. Although it has been widely adopted, and praised by education innovators, it has also been criticized as one of the worst math texts introduced in recent years. A 2007 web video produced by Where’s the Math singled out Everyday Mathematics for emphasizing unusual and inefficient computation methods, statements that it is a waste of time to teach traditional computation methods to proficiency, and instead spend “precious class time” on activities such as planning a trip across the country with colorful maps. However, unlike TERC, this program does cover many traditional computation methods, along with several alternatives.
Description of the program
Scope and sequence:
According to the developers, “…[t]he developers of Everyday Mathematics believe that the groundwork for mathematical literacy should begin at a much earlier age than offered by traditional mathematics programs…”(Current Curriculum 2002).
Everyday Mathematics is based on a “spiral” curriculum, where mastery is not required before the introduction of new topics. This is contrasted to seeing an obvious progression of skill build-up occur (student masters one digit addition and moves on to two digit addition) In opposition to this view, however, “…Everyday Mathematics was designed to take advantage of the spacing effect…” (Braams 2003). It relies on the notion that regular reinforcement of important skills is necessary, emphasizing that skills should appear multiple times and throughout a course of study. The key principle in regards to spiraling and distributed practice is that mastery and fluency in basic skills are goals that should be achieved long after they are first introduced (Braams 2003).
In accordance with this belief, the Everyday Mathematics program is set up around seven mathematical strands. Those seven are as follows:
• Algebra and Uses of Variables
• Data and Chance
• Geometry and Spatial Sense
• Measures and Measurement
• Numeration and Order
• Patterns, Functions, and Sequences
• Reference Frames (About Everything Mathematics 2003)
Features of the program:
Beyond the scope and sequence, EM has several other discerning features. The following is a listing of them, as well as an explanation for how the program incorporates them.
• Real-Life Problem Solving-
EM places a great deal of focus on real-world problems. A great deal of instruction revolves around application of mathematical concepts in everyday situations.
• Balanced Instruction-
“…Learning is conducted in whole group, small group, and individual settings. Students experience open-ended questions, hand-on explorations, supervised practice, and long term projects…” (Current Curriculum 2003).
• Multiple Methods for Basic Skills Practice-
Students practice basic skills through daily review problems, mental math activities, flash cards, games, homework, etc.
• Emphasis on Communication-
Discussion is very important to the program. Students are asked to explain their problem solving strategies. Students are also expected to listen and learn from other students.
• Enhanced Home/School Partnerships-
Information is sent home to help parents work with their children. Homework is structured so that students are meant to rework problems from previous lessons with adults in the home.
• Appropriate Use of Technology-
Technology is used within the program in a way that is meant to instruct children when and where it is appropriate to use it. This is especially true when it comes to calculators.
Application in the classroom
Below is an outline of the components of EM as they are generally seen throughout the curriculum.
A typical lesson outlined in one of the teacher’s manuals includes 3 parts.
1. Teaching the Lesson- This is where the new content is introduced.
2. Ongoing Learning and Practice-In this section, material is reviewed for maintenance purposes.
3. Options for Individualizing- Here is where options for extending or reteaching concepts are presented.
(Click link to view a sample of a lesson http://everydaymath.uchicago.edu/samplelessons/2nd/index.html)
Everyday, there are certain things that each EM lesson requires the student to do routinely. These components can be dispersed throughout the day or they can be part of the main math lesson.
• Math Messages- These are problems, displayed in a manner chosen by the teacher, that students complete before the lesson and then discuss as an opener to the main lesson.
• Mental Math and Reflexes- These are brief (no longer than 5 min) sessions “…designed to strengthen children’s number sense and to review and advance essential basic skills…” (Program Components 2003).
• Math Boxes- These are pages intended to have students routinely practice problems independently.
• Home Links/Study Links- Everyday homework is sent home. Grades K-3 they are called Home Links and 4-6 they are Study Links. They are meant to reinforce instruction as well as connect home to the work at school.
Beyond the components already listed, there are supplemental resources to the program. The two most common are games and explorations.
• Games – These are counted as an essential part of the EM curriculum. “…Everyday Mathematics sees games as enjoyable ways to practice number skills, especially those that help children develop fact power…” (Program Components 2003). Therefore, authors of the series have interwoven games throughout daily lessons and activities.
• Explorations- One could, perhaps, best describe these as mini-projects completed in small groups. They are intended to extend upon concepts taught throughout the year.
Implementing all of these components is a challenge, as it requires time, and a change of attitudes from students and teachers, can also be a problem. “…Instead of fostering a competitive environment and teaching students through logical deduction, Everyday Mathematics uses a collaborative milieu and allows students to draw their own conclusions after seeing recurring math patterns. Teachers facilitate the process instead of teaching it… (Knight 2005). Teachers must also have faith in the spiral curriculum in order to implement and assess student work. Teachers who have been trained on grading for mastery, may become frustrated in application of EM.
Evidence of effectiveness
“[d]espite its critics, Everyday Mathematics has 13 years of university research behind it …” (Knight 2005).
Among positive evidence, “The research evidence about Everyday Mathematics (EM) almost all points in the same direction: Children who use EM tend to learn more mathematics and like it better than children who use other programs.” (University of Chicago 2005).
It was originally developed as a research project for the University of Chicago. “Each grade level of the Everyday Mathematics program went through a three-year development cycle that included a year of writing, a year of extensive field-testing in a cross-section of classrooms, and a year of revising…” (University of Chicago 2005).
Few other programs have been through so much testing and research, nevertheless, the program has been challenged by critics
Critics and their rationale
Criticism of EM has come from all directions. Many internet sites and web pages and even internet videos have been dedicated to countering the position of many school districts and education professionals that EM is an effective mathematics program. Many believe that EM is not just innovative, but a severely deficient and radical approach to math that should be abandoned.
One direction from which criticism comes is from parents. “..[S]uch programs as Everyday Mathematics raise the eyebrows and sometimes the ire of parents simply because they don’t use the traditional methods parents are accustomed to…” (Knight 2005). It is difficult for some to trust EM because it seems to differ so much from the math they grew up with. Many parents complain that the methods used in homework are so different from traditional methods, they are unable to assist in homework assignments. Other parents claim that their children are unable to master simple arithemetic problems. Methods such as the “lattice” multiplication method are far more tedious, and require more drawing and effort with no real advantage over traditional methods. By 2007, school districts that were considering adopting EM were encountering very negative reactions from parents when asked about the choice of EM 
Many professional mathematicians consider EM to be an inferior curriculum. Like many parents, they believe that overlooks or underplays basics. It does not promote the use of standard algorithms that have been tested and used for a long time by professionals who use math every day.
However, Wertheimer (2002) points out that “…[t]he mathematicians are among the few survivors of the traditional mathematics program. They are trying to apply what they know to the entire population”. He also has a great deal of reservations about the ability of these mathematicians to evaluate the complexity of educational methodology that can help everyone achieve. Mathematics education should help promote the success of everyone not just those naturally successful at math. (Wertheimer 2002). Others questioned the assumption that groups such as women and minorities cannot be expected to learn basic math facts in a traditional way, and that only “successful” groups should be learning “real math”.
Beyond parents and professional mathematicians, even teachers have joined in the argument. Teachers who have encountered problems with such a radical approach have also dissented.
A common argument is that the program was not the problem, but implementation was. Critics claimed that the content was difficult for teachers to teach without a great deal of training. Much of the content in geometry and statistics goes far beyond the traditional 5th grade math most parents and elementary teachers are proficient in, because of the belief that students in early grades should be studying advanced math concepts rather than only basic facts and methods.
taken From Wikipedia.com