We can’t go forward with Everyday Math,”
is the assessment of Greenwich Public Schools Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Professional Learning Irene Parisi.
Last week’s Greenwich Board of Education work session included a review of the district’s current math curriculum. Superintendent Dr. William McKersie told the board that the math review acceleration comes as a need to prepare the district for alignment with the Common Core, which Everyday Math fails to do. McKersie said that Greenwich is “a year and a half behind from other districts” when it comes such alignment.
The administration is recommending adoption of new mathematics textbook: “Math in Focus: Singapore Math,” which will be used in grades K-8. The initial roll out for K-5 would occur in 2013, followed by grades 6-8 in 2014.
The unanimous recommendation comes as a result of the review conducted by the administration and the Math Curriculum Review Committee, which is comprised of 30 members including various GPS program coordinators, learning facilitators, teachers and parents. The new math program also would include elements of digital learning opportunities.
Parisi said, “There is a frenzy out there to find the appropriate resource” and that through their communications with other districts, they found that Singapore Math has demonstrated “growth in the ESL population” as well as positive feedback for what the curriculum is able to do in the areas of “interventions” as well as for “higher level thinkers.”
Digital support for the curriculum
Among the features highlighted was the fact that each textbook also comes with a 6-year eBook license to allow for different ways of accessing the text as well as other technology aids such as Whiteboard lesson components, online teacher and student eBooks, videos, pod-casts and inter-activities. The textbook also provides differentiated support for English Language Learners and other members with special needs.
Further, it is seen as supporting the new standards-based curriculum that is connected throughout the grades, focuses on the “eight mathematical practices”, promotes many of the skills seen as necessary as 21st century skills and is aligned with the new Common Core State Standards for math. The textbook scored 4 or 5s on all 17 rating measures used and overall received a rating of 4.8 by the reviewers.
Finding the right tool for all
Parisi told the board that the requirements of an “appropriate resource” would be one that is able to “raise the rigor and close the achievement gap.”
Part of review did include visits to other districts and the examination of four different textbooks. Parisi also said that “no one textbook” can address all of the needs of the district. However, with the new plan teachers will be able to “appropriately and intentionally plan personalized” deliveries to their students.
“Gift To Our Colleagues”
Parisi said that she wants to “get the units of study in the hands of the teachers now” so that they can begin utilizing them. While “summer work” has been budgeted for, Parisi sees an opportunity to “arm the teachers” with the units she refers to as "anchors" providing “consistent language and format.” McKersie explained that Parisi is creating a systematic coordination on professional learning, which will be tied to digital learning. “Instead of doing things to teachers,” Parisi said that she believes in efforts “through” teachers in what she called the “make and take model.”
Board member Steve Anderson asked during the transition, if there is a grade level that will need to be more “aggressively managed” due to a “bigger gap” between where the district currently is and where it is going. Parisi said there would be shifts across all the elementary grades. For example, the curriculum will focus on algebra readiness. Grades K-2 will focus on mastering basic counting principles in preparation for Algebra I. Additionally, instead of doing multiplication mid-year in 3rd grade, now the school year will start with the topic.
Tied To Digital
During public comments Dr. Gaetane Francis, who is the parent of two students attending Glenville and Western Middle schools, stated that she is a “strong supporter of moving forward with digital learning as a tool to improve education.”
Francis told the board that she has had a lot of parents express some concerns to her about digital learning, particularly about the use digital textbooks as they feel that students “extract and retain material” much better from written text.
The opportunity to make learning more “personalized” through digital learning is one that Francis welcomes, however, she asked the board to consider the pending adoption of a new math curriculum in conjunction with digital learning. “If we are going to ask the town for $18 million to try and go digital, I think it is really critical that we look at this as a new method of teaching” as well as “a way to truly set up a personalized teaching environment.” Of course, providing training and support to the teachers will be necessary, noted Francis.
The proposal will return to the board for a vote at the April 25 business meeting at Riverside School.