I attended the Board of Education meeting last evening. I presented the summary below, referencing the Connecticut State Department of Education document previously discussed.
The board was listening, and the chairwoman referred to me by name (almost pronounced it correctly) when discussing the upcoming Board Work Session (5 Jan 2012) to review the 2011-2012 Math Monitoring Report covering the 2010-2011 school year. Another board member (Peter Sherr) indicated that he had been “hearing from the community” and was looking for a “full-throated discussion about math, the math curriculum.” It should be an interesting discussion.
If you are not familiar with the Monitoring Reports, they are the main way that the administration communicates about the successes and issues in the area of Mathematics. The reports can be found on the BoE Policy page:
although the 2010-2011 Math report does not appear to have been posted.
Interestingly, I cannot find a policy on how to conduct a curriculum review. Hmmm.
Board of Education Meeting Presentation22 December 2011
“Why are we not accelerating the Math Program Review (in light of the new Common Core standards)?” At least one Board member raised this question at your last meeting.
The administration responded:“We are not recommending changing the 2014-15 curriculum review cycle for math for the following reasons:
One - Overall, 92% of the Common Core math standards were an exact, collective or partial match to Connecticut’s Math standards. This translates to 40 Common Core Math standards that will be “new” for Connecticut. Although this will require us to supplement our K-8 instructional program, it does not make it necessary to replace our current materials. Much will stay the same, however some Common Core concepts and skills may need to be added and some current standards will move to a different grade.
Two - Changing the review cycle will have the biggest impact on our K-5 teachers. That group is already preparing for a new science program and new Language Arts units; adding a new math program would be overwhelming.“
Overwhelming K-5 teachers is a significant concern. However, the question asked by the Board was about an accelerated review, not about an immediate change in the curriculum. Big difference.
The 92% match of Common Core standards to the previous standards, on which our current curriculum is based, sounds good. However, closer examination of the source document the administration used reveals something more troubling. I spoke with one of the authors, Charlene Tate Nichols of the state Department of Education, to confirm my interpretation.
First, if we look at the strength of the match, the picture changes greatly. In addition to the 8% new material, twenty four percent of the matches (page 13) are deemed “Weak” meaning “major aspects of the Common Core standards are not addressed; (or) standards may be related but only generally” (page 11). In reality, about 160 (not 40) of the about 500 standards will need to be introduced in whole or in major part.
Second, the administration says “some current standards will move to a different grade.” Actually, about 25% of the current K-8 standards need to move forward a grade or more, and 13% of the current standards need to move back (page 21).
Last, one of the Common Core Key Assumptions is that “Common Core assumes 100% mastery of the preceding year’s standards” (page 4). That means we can’t just “spiral” back to the topic the next year. Makes you wonder if Everyday Math is even aligned to the new standards?Any way you add it up, a major portion of the standards are changing and a major portion of our current curriculum needs to change. We need to review the curriculum now. Please allocate the required budget now.
The administration wants to wait. We already skipped the 2010 review. We can wait, we can supplement, and cut and paste, and make do with what we have, until 2014 or 2015 or 2016, but is it fair to our students?Thank you.
Note: minor edits were made to source document language to clarify abbreviations and acronyms, and some administration responses were compressed to save time.