Assessment of Dr O’s new proposal

Dr Otaigbe’s revised proposal certainly has more teeth than the original, but I’m not sure it goes far enough that it will guarantee our children the education I believe they deserve.   Let’s take it bit by bit.

1. The goal at each grade level is to achieve the mathematics objectives of the Virginia Standards of Learning and the PWCS curriculum. The PWCS elementary curriculum shall ensure that all SOL essential knowledge and skills standards are covered at the grade level indicated in the SOL framework.

This isn’t bad because Investigations frequently misses the grade level expectations in the SOL  for student accomplishment – especially with regards to computation.  Unfortunately the SOLs are intentionally vague and, while I appreciate the attempt, I’m not sure this will ensure that our children are given the strong foundation in computation that they need to move onto higher math.

2. All students are expected to achieve conceptual understanding, procedural fluency, and automatic recall of facts. Pacing guides shall designate practice for mastery of basic facts and for efficient execution of standard algorithms.

This one’s good as well, but doesn’t go quite far enough.   It leaves wiggle room for the math department to continue to claim that the “lessons” on the standard algorithms provide efficient execution of the standard algorithms.

3. Math Investigations handbooks and activity books and traditional mathematics workbooks will be provided for teachers and students to support a blended approach to the teaching of mathematics.

Again, good, but not quite a requirement to provide these materials to students and use them in the curriculum.  Since Investigation is the county mandated curriculum and those materials will be purchased first, the only schools which will be able to provide alternate materials are those which did not dispose of them previously.

4. Classroom teachers shall have the flexibility to use instructional materials and strategies and to adjust pacing recommendations to achieve learning outcomes.

I love this one.  I hope it isn’t undermined by overly aggressive Administrators because this is exactly what we want for our teachers.  Availability of alternate instructional materials will be an issue for many teachers.

5. The mathematics program shall be implemented within the structure of site-based management.

This one changes nothing from what we have now.

6. Success of the program will be evaluated by scores on the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) tests and other achievement tests, by student readiness for advanced math courses such as extended math in sixth grade, and by survey responses from parents and staff members. SOL results will be evaluated and reported by grade level and by sub-groups. SOL results, including information on trends, will be compared with surrounding school divisions and with statewide results.

This is certainly an improvement over the current requirement which allows the school division to selectively report test results to paint the best possible picture of the Investigations program.

7. Advanced students shall be challenged with additional or more complex problems and activities offered in each classroom. These students shall be provided the opportunity to learn and practice more advanced concepts as they are ready.

The school division currently claims that the program we have allows for differentiation to challenge advanced learners, so, while this sounds good on paper it’s really unchanged from what we have now.

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In short, the revised motion is stronger than the original one, but still not quite strong enough. The only that that changes is that teachers are permitted to select the instructional materials they want for their students.  I  hope that the teachers will be given the ability to purchase those materials for their students.  Without that authority, the whole thing is a waste.

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