During last night's Board Meeting, Kevin Russell, Chris Igoe and Dr. Schneider presented information to the Board on the Everyday Math Common Core supplemental materials that will be taught starting this fall. The math plan that was presented was an alternative to the Math Pilots the Administration presented last month and that were nixed by the Board. Board Member Yaeger commended the Administrators for coming back so quickly with what sounded like a very comprehensive, well thought out math program alternative, rather than simply "sulking" after the math pilots were not approved.
While we agree that the Math curriculum presented last night sounds promising, let us be clear Mr. Yaeger: "We do not pay our Administrators to sulk." The very suggestion that they might do so is offensive. However, we also do not pay our Administrators to do a complete 180 on a math curriculum that until last night's meeting, they had discounted as not being adequate to meet the Common Core requirements in math. We are quite befuddled by the Administrators' actions.
What we learned during last night's meeting was that the University of Chicago Everyday Math curriculum has been taught in D181 since 2006-2007. Everyday Math created Common Core supplements in 2012. Rather than use those supplements last year (which apparently were available for D181 to use), or select them to be "piloted" next year, we know from past meetings that last year the Administration created its own math materials to teach 3rd grade math, allowed teachers to download math resource materials/worksheets as "supplements" and that the Every Day Math workbooks purchased with taxpayer money were unused. When asked during the Math Pilots' presentation last month why Every Day Math was not a curriculum that was being considered or recommended, the Board was told that it was not adequate and would not meet the Common Core requirements.
Last night, the Board was told a very different story. The Administration painted a picture that makes the Every Day Common Core supplements and online E-suite resources that accompany it look like a "math Nirvana." According to Mr. Russell and Ms. Igoe who heads the Math Curriculum Committee, Every Day math will provide teachers with all the materials they need to assess students, create flexible groupings, provide the materials for differentiated instruction, and free up time that the teachers had to spend creating their own differentiated materials. What was previously tauted as inadequate was described last night as something that will lead the District in the "right direction" and that the teachers are very "happy" about. When questioned by Board Member Heneghan, Mr. Russell had to admit (although he clearly resisted having to make this admission), that at least some of these materials were available last year, but hadn't been used by the teachers.
He then assured the Board that the materials will be used next year. How does he know this? Because he said that the teachers will now be "required" to use them and will get a grand total of 2 days of training, the week before our students return to school in August, on how to use them, with an additional day of training six weeks later in October.
He also promised that there will be monitoring to ensure that the teachers are using the materials and using them in a consistent manner across the district.
Well, we certainly hope this all turns out to be true. More importantly, we EXPECT that this will all happen. Why? Because our students deserve it! After last year's third grade compacted math debacle, that resulted in the majority of our students in 3rd grade not meeting their MATH MAP growth targets, we have the right to expect our students to not only grow, but to thrive and catch up.
We are left to ask why, if the the Every Day math Common Core materials are so fantastic, weren't they used last year? Why were our students last year subjected to home made materials rather than the proven and apparently comprehensive Every Day Math program? The Administration sounded ridiculous during last night's meeting. They have done a complete "flip" after meeting with the Every Day math vendor. Now all the students and parents can do is wait to see if the teachers are appropriately trained to consistently use these materials beginning on the first day of school and to see if our students will meet their growth targets next year.
If they don't, then we think its safe to say that we must demand accountability from the Administrators, starting with those who run the Math Curriculum Committee, that head the Curriculum and PPS departments, and that lead the District -- Superintendent Schuster. If they don't come through and fulfill the "promises" made last night, it will be time for the Board of Education to clean house.