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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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School officials: Drop controversial math text

Updated 8:22 am, Wednesday, May 8, 2013
  • Parents and school officials take in a presentation on the proposed revised math curricuulm for grades six through 10 during Tuesday night's Board of Education meeting. Photo: Michael C. Juliano/Staff Photo
    Parents and school officials take in a presentation on the proposed revised math curricuulm for grades six through 10 during Tuesday night's Board of Education meeting. Photo: Michael C. Juliano/Staff Photo

 

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Administrators recommend Fairfield schools not use the College Preparatory Mathematics textbook to teach secondary-level math as part of curriculum revisions to comply with new Common Core State Standards.

Paul Rasmussen, secondary mathematics curriculum leader for the school district, made the recommendation to the Board of Education on Tuesday night during a presentation on proposed changes to the math curriculum for grades six through 10.

The recommendation, he said, is based on collected data and parent and student feedback on the CPM textbook "piloted" by the district earlier this year, as well as parents' complaints that the book could not be used to help students at home, he said.

"CPM does have its positives and negatives," he said. "The use of this extensive pilot was useful in helping the district make this decision."

Rasmussen's recommendation came months after parents organized a Fairfield Math Advocates group objecting to the pilot use of the CPM math textbook for teaching Algebra I at the secondary-school level without board approval.

Following an extensive review process that included teachers, administrators and parents, Margaret Boice, director of secondary education, recommended that Big Ideas: A Common Core Math Curriculum be used for Math 6, Transition Math 6, Math 7, Pre-Algebra 7 and Pre-Algebra 8. She also suggested that Algebra 1: Common Core, published by Pearson, be used to teach Algebra I Grade 8 and Algebra 12 (ninth-grade math) and that Geometry: Common Core, also by Pearson, be used for Geometry 21 and Geometry 22.

The books were chosen among other texts on a rating of 1 to 4, including Math in Focus and Glencoe Math for the middle-school level and Discovering Algebra and Discovering Geometry as well as CPM Core Connections Algebra and CPM Core Connections Geometry for high school students.

The revised curriculum was developed by secondary math teachers to meet the Common Core State Standards adopted by the state. Once the draft was completed, it was reviewed by a focus group of 12 parents.

The school board will vote on the proposed math curriculum and resources for grades six through 10 at a future meeting.

Board member John Convertito asked Tuesday if additional resources would be added to the curriculum, to be implemented this fall, over time.

Rasmussen said other resources would be sought for the curriculum over time, and Boice said, "Pearson, in particular, is known for the wealth of support online."

Tricia Donovan, a participant in the mathematics resources review, said the board needs to better define how pilot programs are conducted, implemented and recorded by the school district.

"We should not have the luxury of subjecting students to a year of experimentation and possibly loss of learning opportunity without having a published, professional and scientific report," she said.

Tuesday's proposal on the math curriculum and texts also comes a month after the board approved a teacher-developed math curriculum for pre-kindergarten through second grade that will use four textbooks and other instructional resources as part of a "patchwork" Math Instructional model. At the meeting where it was approved, several parents spoke in favor of using a new textbook instead to administer the curriculum, to be instituted this fall.

Prior to that meeting, a group of parents spoke out at board meetings and through letters to the editor in favor of using either Singapore Math or Math in Focus textbooks for elementary math.

In April 2012, the board approved a revised elementary math curriculum for grades three through five that was also developed by teachers. At that meeting, board member Perry Liu questioned the use of the Scott Foresman textbook with other texts and board member Jessica Gerber mentioned the Singapore Mathematics curriculum as a possible alternative.

Furthermore, a parent focus group urged the board to vote the curriculum down for several reasons, including it teaches "fuzzy math" and the Common Core State Standards are not "internationally benchmarked."

mjuliano@bcnnew.com; 203-255-4561, ext. 112; twitter.com/mjulianoadv