PA Coalition for World Class Math

                                       Medford Dumps Everyday Math (5/30/2012)

Medford school district moves to new math program



MEDFORD-Students in kindergarten through fifth grade will be seeing a whole new math program next year. In response to New Jersey’s adoption of the Common Core Standards in June 2010, the Medford board of education recently heard the case for changing the program currently used for math.

Thomas Olson, administrative director of programming and planning, spoke at length about the need for an adoption of a new program more in line with the Common Core Standards.

The Common Core Standards, adopted by 45 states, is a national program that narrows down the criteria that students need to learn before they move up to a new grade. “There have been significant changes in math instruction expectations with the change in the common core” said Olson. “It readjusted expectations as to what mathematics instruction should look like in the classroom compared to the New Jersey standards. There are a lot less of them, especially the content standards; (now) they want more depth in the instruction of the learning of those standards. They want the math more focused on certain key aspects, particularly numeration and operations.”

The current plan, Everyday Math 2007, isn’t meeting the needs of the common core, says Olson. He and a committee of over 20 teachers and 30 volunteers examined the newest offering of the program, Everyday Math 2012, published by McGraw Hill and created by the University of Chicago Mathematics program. Although almost every company claims to be up to the standards of the common core, Olson believes that any new changes were superficial and up to 25 percent of Common Core Standards were not covered at all by the newest version.

This led Olson to look at eight other programs, of which several were presented to the committee, including two programs called Math in Focus Singapore and Envision Math. Several programs that originated in Singapore were considered. Singapore has, since 1995, charted near or at the top of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study and several of the Singapore-based programs claim that the new Common Core Standards have been based on their work.

After careful consideration between Math in Focus and Envision Math, Olson chose the latter. Although the committee liked both programs, they found that Envisions has more of a varied approach in day-to-day learning but has more traditional program in terms of methods, leading to less of an adjustment period between the new and old programs and more easily accessible for parents who want to help at home. Mini-pilot programs were conducted using the new material and members of the committee liked what they found.

The Envision Math program more accurately reflects the new standards, according to Olson.

“The program has more depth and the practice needed to reinforce the ideas. The visual models are strong and so is the handling of abstract to concrete.”

One hundred districts in New Jersey use Envision Math and only 15 Math in Focus. Several neighboring districts use Envisions, including Tabernacle, Voorhees, Cherry Hill and West Windsor, while Math in Focus is still up and coming with Shamong, Evesham and Mount Holly adopting the program.

Costs for the new program will be less than the current one, officials said, particularly on-going costs, and the new program reportedly gives the teachers who piloted it the confidence that there will be less of the student struggles that they sometimes see with the current program.

The next Medford board of education teeting will be held on June 4.