*This is Regina’s former district. They finally were able to remove themath program she supported.
February 27, 2009
Bridgewater school board votes to change from controversial math program
By KARA L. RICHARDSON
Children in grades K-6 could learn math a new way starting with the 2009-2010 school year after officials decided to stop using the controversial Every Day Math program.
The Board of Education voted to begin using Harcourt School Publishing, or HSP, Math, pending the passage of the 2009-2010 school-district budget. HSP will replace Every Day Math, a program the district has used for the past decade, and which has drawn the ire of many parents who believe it caused their children to fall behind in math classes.
HSP Math is more in line with traditional mathematics programs and includes methods such as algorithms and memorization. Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Dyer and Superintendent Michael Schilder both said HSP Math is more balanced because it gives a good foundation of skills to all levels of learning.
Schilder said discussions about Every Day Math’s place in the district have been ongoing for at least three years. Even when the district supplemented that curriculum with more traditional algorithms and memorization, concerns about the program remained, he said.
Dyer said the committee charged to study math in grades K-6 convened in September and met several times. The committee included 35 teachers, representatives from each school and grade level, as well as special education.
“We made every effort to keep it balanced,” Dyer said.
Committee members were told to analyze research, including the National Mathematics Advisory Panel report, and the district’s Every Day Math report — which suggested the district seek other math programs for its K-6 students — as well as state standardized test scores.
Some teachers in the district liked the hands-on parts of Every Day Math program, and 72 percent of educators in the district thought the program prepared students for the next grade level.
“I think that’s too low. It should be 100 percent feeling their students are prepared for the next grade level,” Dyer said.
Many in the district were concerned that students were falling behind under Every Day Math, which is a comprehensive program that uses everyday examples to teach math concepts. It differs from a traditional program because it:
Uses calculators from the beginning of the education process (even in kindergarten)
Has a spiral method of teaching that revisits at each level, so each school year begins with a review of what was taught before
Uses games, puzzles and activities to illustrate concepts.
As Dyer and the committee worked to understand “The Math Wars” — a national debate about how math should be taught — she said the panel concluded that there should be balance in the district’s program. They reviewed nine programs — including Every Day Math — and the unanimous decision was to switch to HSP Math. Schilder said he enthusiastically endorsed the decision.
“HSP Math is not just equal to Every Day Math. It’s not just better than Every Day Math. It is far superior to Every Day Math,” Schilder said.
FACTS AND FIGURES
The cost to implement the new program is $509,987.66, Schilder said. Each year, which would include consumable items such as workbooks, is expected to cost the district $55,378, plus the cost of copying materials for students.
Schilder said the district budgets approximately $90,000 each year for Every Day Math, so there will be some savings on an annual basis from the new program.
“I’ve been speechless since this five-inch binder (the K-6 Math study with recommendations to switch to HSP Math) arrived at my home. I could not be more proud to be sitting on this board tonight,” said Board of Education member Jill Gladstone, an outspoken critic of the Every Day Math program.
Carol Rounds, whose son is in fourth grade, said she first complained about Every Day Math in 2006.
Rounds thanked the board, the committee and the administration for their decisions, and thanked Gladstone for her persistence on the matter.
Robyn Wright, who has a fourth-grade daughter and sixth-grade son, added her praise to those who orchestrated the study, and the decision to switch programs.
“This wasn’t about winning an ideological battle,” Wright said. “It was about what was right for the kids.”