Friday, September 28, 2012

I'm Baaaaacccckkkk


Well, we survived summer and the start of school.  With the new school year comes many changes here in Greenwich.  We have a new Superintendent and a new Math Coordinator.  I have had the pleasure of meeting both of them, and I am very encouraged by their outlook and openness.   They have started the preliminary steps toward the math curriculum review, which will begin in earnest with the publication of the Math Monitoring Report at the beginning of November.  The new format for monitoring reports established by the Board of Education last school year should provide an excellent foundation and starting point for the review. 

Will Everyday Math figure in the equation for the review?  EDM is very different in structure from the Common Core Standards (e.g., spiraling versus teaching to mastery).  For EDM to claim alignment to the Common Core will require a major shift in their philosophy, or a great sales job.  But hey, didn’t that get us to where we are now?  Let’s hope we don’t repeat history (I thought we were talking about math, Brian).  Beware of salesmen bearing books!

Even if we dump EDM next year, we still have to worry about the “lost generation” of students who learned (and I use that word loosely) their elementary school math using that program.  Many teachers recognized the failings of EDM and heavily supplemented the program to try to teach the basics.  But not all teachers had the background or experience to supplement.  By the time we get rid of EDM, there will be five or six classes which received the majority of their math education in elementary school under Everyday Math.  What are we going to do to ensure that these students know the basics?  I’ve heard two stories of honors students (advanced math students) who got to high school, then had to ask their parents how to do long division.  Ask a middle school math teacher (off the record, if they will comment) what their take is on how well prepared the students are. 

Speaking of the Common Core, there has been much debate about the Common Core State Standards, with several states questioning their involvement.  The Standards were judged (at least in one review) to be better than most of the individual state standards, so only a few states (not Connecticut) would have a argument with the Standards based on quality.  The main reasons for a second look are (1) concerns about giving up local control for a “national“ standard, and (2) cost.  Most states jumped to the CCSS to provide a path away from the requirements of No Child Left Behind.  This was sort of a Catch 22.  Avoid NCLB by signing up for another centralized set of requirements.  Either way, the national government is increasing its involvement in what is, constitutionally, a state and local purview. 

Apparently most states also jumped before they understood the cost to implement the Common Core.  The publishers and the test makers are so very happy.

Next up: a slightly different take on the Achievement Gap.

 

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