The Rancho Santa Fe School District board recently adopted a new math curriculum for R. Roger Rowe Elementary and Middle School.
At the June 12 meeting, the board adopted Everyday Mathematics for the elementary school and the following week on June 19, they adopted Open Up Resources by Illustrative Mathematics for the middle school.
Superintendent Donna Tripi said the district was looking to adopt a focused and structured curriculum that is robust with high quality tasks and professional development and resources for the staff to ensure an “exemplary” classroom experience.
“We need challenging, rigorous math for our kids,” Tripi said.
The process for adopting a new math curriculum has been ongoing work for about 18 months, involving every math teacher at the school and including review by math experts and consultants at the San Diego County Office of Education.
According to Tripi, the last review of the math curriculum was 10 years ago. Currently the district uses its own homegrown curriculum of binders as when the Common Core State Standards were newly adopted, the district found the materials offered by textbook publishers to be lacking.
“It was clear the current curriculum needed some work,” Tripi said, noting that a handful of topics were found to be out of grade level and there was an absence of guidance around lesson timing.
With the current curriculum, the math team found an overall lack of program organization—there was no common lesson format or structure, no learning objectives or standards for lessons, no written explanations or suggestions for instruction and while the tasks were good, they were not consistent.
On May 28, the team met at the San Diego County Office of Education’s Instructional Resource Center where the county’s math expert facilitated a review of multiple programs from a handful of publishers.
The elementary team selected Everyday Math (developed by the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project) as it aligns with the standards, allows for differentiation, provides teacher resources and opportunities for students to work independently and collaboratively to try the math. Tripi said Everyday Math developed number sense better than anything they reviewed.
At the middle school level, Open Up was selected as its lessons foster critical-thinking skills rather than rote learning, it features creative lessons that keep students engaged and it encourages class discussion and questioning techniques.
“Open Up is a good segue to the type of program they will be encountering in high school,” Tripi said. “I’m excited…I think it meets the needs of our high-performing kids.”
Board member Jee Manghani said there were some parent concerns about the low ratings Everyday Math received on EdReports.org.
Tripi said she did read the EdReports to see how they rated different math programs but their reports were not the defining factor for the district’s selection. She referred to a statement from The National Council of Math Teachers President Diane Briars, who said that EdReports’ alignment criteria analysis only focuses on a small subset of the standards and not on the quality of the instructional activities.
She added that Valerie Mills, past president of the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics said: “The current reports with mathematical errors and faulty rubrics and process are doing damage to districts, teachers and, most of all, students, by misrepresenting the potential of currently available curriculum materials to support implementation of the Common Core State Standards for mathematics.”
RSF School District Vice President Tyler Seltzer said he has concerns about the new curriculum being too basic and not strong enough for Rowe students. He said the school board has always told parents that the Common Core standards were the school’s baseline only: “Our expectations go well beyond.”
Seltzer said it was critical that any program the school uses not just aligns with but exceeds the state standards.
Tripi said she is completely confident in the programs that were selected after a thorough review by the staff—she believes Everyday Math and Open Up stand up as the best ones that are out there.
“For us, the curriculum will be a base and our teachers will be able to make adjustments based on the needs of their students,” Tripi said.
All of those binders of the staff’s home-crafted math curriculum will not be in vain, they can be used as supplemental tasks, she said.