Math programs don’t add up as Manchester teachers cobble together lessons, use old workbooks

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Manchester schools started their third year without a common, district-wide math curriculum, reported the Union Leader. Here’s an excerpt:

Critics, some who asked to speak anonymously for fear of reprisal from fellow teachers, say children in the city’s 14 elementary schools don’t get the same textbook or workbook — or even any book — that provides the tangible, step-by-step continuity that is helpful to mathematics instruction.

Without a district-wide curriculum, teachers cobble together lessons from various sources, meaning no conformity for lesson plans and teaching material in the district…

“We do have a resource issue here. If we didn’t I already would have addressed this textbook thing,” [Superintendent Bolgen] Vargas told the Curriculum and Instruction Committee in July, according to committee minutes.

School officials said a new program could cost as much as $1 million.

“The district has done away with a ‘program,’ meaning we no longer have math books for our students,” reads an anonymous letter, signed “elementary school teacher” that was delivered to Vargas and two school board members over the summer.

One teacher compared the Academic Standards to the destination on a roadmap. (For example, in second grade a student should be able to “measure to determine how much longer one object is than another, expressing the length difference in terms of a standard length unit,” according to the standards.)

The route to get there, however, is now up to the teacher.

At Parker Varney School, Principal Amy Allen said teachers collaborate on a single Parker Varney curriculum. They use several leftover textbooks and learning aids, including pilot programs the school tried out such as enVision Math and MyMath, as well as leftover programs.

At times, she said, teachers find it challenging to find the best lesson plan.

Manchester Mayor and Board of School Committee Chairman Ted Gatsas responded in a separate article for the Union Leader:

“They (teachers) are teaching math the way they want to teach. They know what they have to teach and they decide,” Gatsas said. “They’re in the classroom, I’m not. They know what’s best for students.”

Last year, Gatsas said, the school district spent $67,200 on elementary school workbooks. Principals have the discretion on what to purchase, he said.

Source: Math programs don’t add up as Manchester teachers cobble together lessons, use old workbooks | Union Leader