PA Coalition for World Class Math

                        Pelham (NY) parents want Investigations gone asap (11/21/2011) 


Pelham Parents: School Math Plan Doesn’t Add Up

The Pelham school district is moving forward with a review of its K-5 math curriculum.

By Rasheed Oluwa

Pelham Patch

November 21, 2011

Although the Pelham school district has agreed to review its elementary school math curriculum, some parents still have concerns about the way school officials will handle the process.

Peter Giarrizzo, the assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and personnel, announced that the administration will look into the “Investigation’s in Number, Data and Space” math curriculum. The curriculum, which the district adopted in 2008, is a program that places an emphasis on having students participate in activities that give them a greater understanding of math concepts and problem solving.

Many district parents believe that the curriculum is too abstract and doesn’t place enough emphasis on a traditional, systematic algorithm-based learning and homework. The concerns have been shared by parents and educators across the nation.

“Luckily, we have great teachers who are supplementing their students  lessons plans,” said Jennifer Slattery, a district parent. “But the fact that they feel a need to supplement their lesson plans shows that the curriculum isn’t working.”

Slatterly and Luba Chernov, another Pelham parent, sent the district an e-mail containing a list of articles and research that questioned the effectiveness of Investigations. The e-mail is one of the things that pushed the district to look into the math program.

Slattery said she has been in contact with a more than 100 or so parents who share the same concerns regarding Investigations.

Giarrizzo said the district’s curriculum, instruction and assessment council will begin reviewing the curriculum this month. Giarizzo said the district will begin studying its practices in regards to homework, supplemental instruction and resources as it pertains to the state’s common core standards for math.

Two days, one in the fall and one in the spring, will also be set aside for parents, administrators and teachers to discuss the math curriculum.

The district will also reach out to the math education at Rutgers University. Giarrizo said the university’s math program was recently recognized as second in the nation in The Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index, which measures a department’s academic and scholarly productivity.

Slatterly is glad that the district is looking into the program. But she wonders if it’s necessary for the district to spend additional time, money and other resources determining if Investigations is viable. Slattery said there is already enough research available to show that Investigations isn’t viable.

Slattery believes that the district will better served forming a committee of parents, administrators and teachers to look into the matter. She said the sooner the curriculum is changed, the sooner elementary school students can begin catching up on some of the math skills they missed.

“Our kids can’t afford to wait another year,” she said.