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New school district math curriculum on display : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
New school district math curriculum on display
Meets Common Core standards; final school board vote pending

by Lyle R. Rolfe


Out with the old-in with the new.

That was the recommendation made to Oswego School District Board members Monday night by a team of 59 district administrators and math teachers.

The team worked 4,500 hours studying new math curricula since last August, Dr. Lisa Smith, director of elementary education told board members.

Superintendent Dr. Matthew Wendt said the materials will be placed on public display for 30 days at the District Administration Center, 4175 Route 71, Oswego.

After that he will ask the board to approve the new $1.5 million math program which covers all elementary grades(1-5); junior high grades (6-8); and high school grades (9-12).

If approved the new programs would go into effect at the start of the 2014-15 school year in August, he said.

The team included two teachers from each of the district's elementary schools, one teacher from each junior high, plus two teachers from each high school for each course-algebra, geometry and algebra 2.

Also on the team were two high school department chairs and nine administrators, which included two elementary principals, one junior high and two high school assistant principals and four teaching and learning directors.

Mike Purcell, assistant director of secondary education, discussed the curriculum review process.

He said their goal is to get students and teachers working at higher thinking levels and to provide students with the math skills and knowledge to compete internationally.

Melissa McDowell, assistant director of elementary education, said the new curriculum meets the Common Core standards, which were adopted by the Illinois State Board of Education in 2010 for all districts throughout the state. Illinois is one of 46 states that have adopted the Common Core, she noted.

She said the standards are internationally benchmarked to high performing countries to help students in the U.S. succeed in a global economy.

She said the team is now looking at mathematical practices, adding that this is where the shift in teaching and instruction changes. This will help students become critical thinkers in the classroom and dig into the problems on which they are working. They will be learning how and why as part of the new curriculum, she added.

Two first grade teachers presented an example of a problem their students will be doing and how it will require more critical thinking.

Dr. Edsel Clark, director of secondary education, said there were three areas to be looked at to revise the overall math curriculum. He said they looked at the standards all students are expected to know to be able to do course work at their grade level.

The team determined the best order and group of these standards to ensure high levels of learning for students, he said.

Lastly, they had to develop unit guides that will be used for planning lessons and guiding support and enrichment for students, Clark said.

Smith said they asked all vendors of math curricula to send them to the district's math directors. They were assessed to be sure they would fit in with Common Core and Oswego's curriculum, she said.

Selections were narrowed down to four to five vendors' proposals and then presented to committee members for review and comments.

They then assessed each vendor's curriculum on the basis of how it aligned with the district's curriculum and Common Core, whether the standards were clear, and how it utilized units and lessons,

Also whether it supports English Language Learners, remediation and enrichment, whether it could be communicated to parents, whether the resources were available in Spanish, whether it could be used with the district's computers, iPads, tablets, white boards and other technology and whether it allowed for continued professional development of staff members.

Smith said they had three committees-one for elementary, junior high and high school.

All three separately recommended McGraw-Hill programs. The elementary team chose "My Math" and the junior high and high school team members chose the appropriate issue of Glencoe for their grade levels.

McDowell said they recommended My Math, which was written after Common Core was developed, meaning it is linked to Common Core standards.

She said My Math comes with five years of print materials, a five year license for the district, and classroom manipulative kits for students. It is in English and Spanish and online support is provided, she noted.

Purcell said the Glencoe edition for the junior high students includes three years of print material, and two licenses, one for seven years and the other for five.

Teacher support materials include 35 iPads for each math teacher for instruction purposes.

The high school edition of Glencoe includes textbooks, and licenses similar to those for the junior high edition. The teacher support materials for high school include 35 iPads for teachers.

Clark said they are proposing compacting the junior high honors courses. The sixth grade honors class would include all of sixth grade math plus the first half of the seventh grade math.

The seventh grade class would include the last half of the seventh grade math plus all of the eighth grade math material.

The eighth grade class will be an Algebra 1 class, Clark said.

He said the team will finalize everything in April, provide additional teacher training in the summer and be ready to implement the programs at the start of the 2014-15 school year in August.

Smith also noted that at the start of every school year, the vendors will come in and train any newly hired math teachers.

Program costs listed

The cost for all programs over five years will be $1,505,721. Wendt said the budget for next year includes these costs.

The cost of the program for the elementary schools will be $758,926 and will cover all expenses for grades one to five over five years.

The total cost for the junior high and high school programs will be $746,795 for five years.

Broken down, this includes first year costs of $289,131 each for junior high and high school materials and $71,050 for technology costs.

There are no other costs for the junior high programs, but there will be a material cost of $13,230 each year for years 2-5 at the high school level.

There will be a $35,000 cost for technology for both junior high and high school combined on year four.

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