Cross-posted on Yahoo:

  • For this year, the district abandoned its normal textbook-review process and adopted the new engageny math modules sight-unseen. (engageny)
  • Engageny math is still being written; the district is downloading units as they’re posted to the web.
  • The Engageny “modules” have not been field-tested. Irvington teachers and children are first adopters &, thus, are serving as test subjects.
  • Kids in higher grades (3rd & 4th) have gaps in their math knowledge because engageny & Math Trailblazers don’t match, but no one in the school can identify the children’s gaps, and no one has a plan to remedy the gaps.
  • The district has never had a “scope and sequence” of knowledge and skills students learn in each grade, so administrators don’t know what the kids know — and they have no simple means of comparing engageny math to the math that children have been learning here.
  • It was clear last Thursday night that administrators can’t fix the problem. None of them is expert in math; they don’t know what a proper sequence of math instruction is. Nor should they: no one can know everything about every subject. Normally “pedagogical content knowledge” (what to teach & when & how) is “purchased” when we adopt the best math textbook series we can find.
  • The solution, for now, is to drop engageny (or delay its adoption) and replace it either with the old Trailblazers books or with an ’emergency adoption’ of Saxon Math, the single most teacher-friendly math textbook on the market. (Here’s the homeschool edition.) UPDATE 11/9/2013: Or, better yet, we should do an emergency adoption of Singapore Math. Engageny math is, to some degree, modeled on Singapore Math, but Singapore Math has been field-tested and revised over many years’ time, and its Scope and Sequence can be understood by administrators, teachers, and parents alike.
  • Any teacher (& any parent) can pick up a Saxon Math textbook and teach math today. I know this because I chose Saxon when I realized I needed to re-teach my son 4th grade math. I hadn’t taken a math course since college, and I successfully used Saxon immediately to teach my son and re-teach myself.
  • An emergency adoption of Saxon would mean that this year serves as the pilot of Saxon; next fall the district could pilot Singapore Math (& perhaps engageny math, if we have good word on engageny from other districts).
  • Other children, in other districts, should serve as test subjects for engageny math, not ours.
  • For the time being, we can’t worry about the new Common Core tests. We have Trailblazers kids in a Common Core world; that’s the reality. (If we had Singapore Math kids — real Singapore Math, not Dobbs Ferry Singapore Math — in a Common Core world, things would be different. But we don’t.) The state requires kids to take the tests, and that’s fine: we should treat the results as information about gaps and proceed from there.
  • We have $2.16 million dollars in the fund balance to use for ’emergencies’; this should be seen as an emergency. Once kids develop gaps in math, it is very difficult for them to catch up to peers who have had a coherent math education. Our family knows this from direct personal experience.

Irvington Parents Forum at Yahoo
IUFSD Factoids