The latest is that as far as the school board is concerned, their 7 points to a highly ineffective math program are the end of it and nothing more will be considered until test results are available in August, if they even consider it then. While the school board has given up and gone with it’s all too typical do nothing while faking action approach, we have not stopped our efforts, and nor should you.
First, the school board tossed the issue onto each school’s laps. Feedback we’re getting from parents indicates that most schools are doing nothing and will be continuing forward with whatever the math department tells them to do. A handful of schools have convened committees to look into the issue, but feedback from parents on those committees indicates that they are nothing more than window dressing and covering up that the school will do whatever the math department tells it to do. Schools have no autonomy to adapt the pacing or content of lessons and no budget to purchase alternate materials even if they wanted to.
So you can’t depend on your local school to make any sort of substantive changes without the math department’s approval and the math department is all about Investigations.
Each teacher should have been provided a black line master from the old SFAW series. The black line master is a booklet of black lined worksheets that teachers can easily Xerox and give to students. While I applaud the school board’s decision to purchase these for all teachers, I’d hope that the teachers wouldn’t just hand them to their students without actually teaching them the processes necessary to solve the problems. Since textbooks and alternate instructional materials didn’t accompany the black line masters, while providing the black line masters is a step in the right direction, it’s not going to change anything because the teacher have neither the time nor the materials available to actually teach the topics our children desperately need.
That means that if you want you child to be taught a semblance of real math in school, then you’ll need to engage your child’s teacher directly.
The schools are required to provide a differentiated instructional program that meets every child’s needs. If you believe the program of instruction your child is receiving is inadequate, then you need to speak up and discuss your concerns with your child’s teacher. You need to ask what your child’s teacher will do to challenge your child and what alternate materials he / she uses to provide your child with differentiated instruction. You’ll need to ask to see those materials and review them yourself to determine whether they’re adequate.
Second, and most important, is that the school system can’t supplement it’s way out of the Investigations hole. Short of yanking the entire section on Computation and Number Reasoning and replacing it with alternate materials, the instructional program in Prince William County schools will not be sufficient to prepare your child for higher math and college level courses.
In short, the Prince William County School system had given up teaching your child math. That responsibility now rests with you. That means you will have to purchase instructional materials and teach your child yourself or hire a tutor. There are lots of programs available – many county parents use the Singapore Math program while other go to Kumon, Sylvan or other private tutoring programs.
The third, and final thing, is that you need to stay involved. This experiment won’t end with Investigations in Elementary School. It will extend to Connected Math in Middle School and a similarly horrible program in High School. Our only chance of getting real math for our children is to demand instructional choice.
In the Fall we need to make sure that our support for instructional choice is heard loud and clear by the school board and if they fail to act, again, then we need to take that concern and vote in school board members who support instructional choice.