Math Adoption Update
Oddly, nothing from SPS. But here's a post from committee member, Rick Burke. Thanks, Rick
The district has not yet announced the results from the K-5 Math Adoption Committee (MAC) meeting on last Friday, but it was a public meeting, so there is no reason I can't share the outcome of committee deliberations and some of my personal opinions about the process and final program selection.
The MAC met on Friday April 25th for an all-day deliberation meeting to choose from one of the three finalist programs (enVision, Go Math, and Math in Focus), plus the alternate recommendation of "no program".
Jumping straight to what folks really want to know, enVision will be the program recommendation put before the school board, and if approved, the new books should be in the schools this fall. While this was not my ideal choice for a math program, the positives do outweigh the negatives in my opinion.
First off, I have to give kudos to Barbara Grant for her work in facilitation and Adam Dysart and Shawn Sipe for their transparency in running the adoption. Barbara was ruthless about giving everybody a chance to speak their mind and be heard by the group. I've sat through some SSD "processes" which were nothing more than window dressing for a predetermined outcomes, and I've experienced the marginalizing "thanks for your input" message too many times.
This adoption committee included a good demographic mix - regional, racial, grade/position, and community representation. A melting pot of 27. Members had varying pedagogical biases and opinions they brought to the mix, but it was nothing like the last elementary adoption where there are an unhealthy polarity between "fuzzy" and "traditional" mindsets.. No fist-fights broke out during debate.
On the con side, there is really just one, but it's a big one. The entire adoption process was heavily guided by the K-5 Common Core State Standards. For those who haven't followed the CCSS bandwagon, it's the new drumbeat by which Seattle is marching. The textbook evaluation criteria were heavily based on alignment to CCSS, including content standards (subject matter the kids will learn by grade level), and mathematical practices (math communication, habits of mind, problem solving, etc). Publishers who built decent K-5 math programs following the alignment, pacing, and prioritization of CCSS rose to the top of the heap. I maintain that CCSS is mostly a distraction, with a few slight benefits. There has been good math before CCSS, and there will be good math long after CCSS dies on the vine to be replaced by the next fad.
For the committee to down-select from 4 choices (3 programs plus "none"), we used a successive elimination process. Prior to this final meeting, each MAC member had reviewed all programs and filled out a scoring sheet based on the selection criteria, including multiple CCSS factors, and Ease of Implementation items. We had also been provided with cost information and publisher-supplied professional development plans for each program. Community feedback, collected from 5 school sites + Douglass-Truth library + JSCEE library, was sent to committee members as it was collected via weekly updates. Each MAC member could review the votes and comments of the community. Updated community feedback was shared up to the day of the meeting. Prior to each "elimination", there was a debate period, followed by a tabulation of program rankings from all MAC members. The choice with the FEWEST FIRST PLACE RANKINGS was cut. During the debate periods, MAC members could ask questions, make impassioned testimony for their favorites, or critique their least favorites. Community votes were part of this discussion. The elimination sequence was "none" got cut first, followed by Math in Focus, and the Go Math, to leave enVision as the program favored by the majority of the MAC. Although the public feedback clearly favored Math in Focus, the program ranking based on the CCSS-based evaluation criteria. MIF, following the Singapore framework, was noticeably advanced compared to the CCSS topic pacing.
I sum up my report-out by restating that enVision is a decent program, and light-years better than Everyday Math. It actually includes worked examples. It has enough practice problems that students can develop mastery. It includes fact fluency (know your multiplication tables), along with problem solving. It even incorporates some the Singapore bar modeling strategies, though not as well as Math in Focus. It is a compromise program - not my first choice. I would favor a Singapore-based program, JUMP math (eliminated during Round1 due to lack of CCSS aligned materials), or Saxon which has a brilliant progression of mathematical topic development. It makes me a bit sad that Seattle chose a less-rigorous program to maintain fidelity to CCSS.
From here, it falls to district central staff to get materials sourced and provide initial teacher training over the summer, and then it's on to building and classroom-level implementation. For those who have kids in the K-5 grades, you should be vigilant in checking for daily work. Grades K-2 should have a single sheet (11x17 folded in half) daily assignment. For grades 3+, your students will need to copy problems from the enVision textbooks and solve them in composition notebooks (or some other student paper). This will be a new challenge for many students accustomed to just filling in worksheets, but it's a worthy exercise to prepare for that expectation in middle and high school.
One last comment: This adoption does not change the waiver policy. Schools are still free to apply for instructional material waivers and use alternate programs. I hope the schools already using or considering Singapore programs will stay the course, and that folks will keep an eye out for JUMP Math. JUMP is from a non-profit publisher which also focuses on developing teacher mathematical depth along with the students. Of all programs reviewed, JUMP would be most likely to lift the entire district, and also result in less of our taxpayer dollars going into Pearson's pockets.
MAC Community Representative & parent of 3 SPS kids