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BOE gets lesson on new math program

Math can be challenging. But, it is that challenge that fuels complex and marvelous thoughts and solutions, and excitement.

Back in the 2015-16 school year, Currituck County Schools piloted a new math program with ten teachers called EngageNY, a program described as “number-sense.” Based on the results from the pilot, the program was implemented district wide in 2016-17. During last month’s Board of Education work session, board members heard from assistant superintendent Dr. Matt Lutz and others about how things have been going since.

A teacher involved in the pilot, said proficiency ratings went from 50 percent to 73 percent in that first year, and now that students have been in the program for two years, proficiency ratings are reaching 90 percent.

Some of the keys to success have been aligning the program with state standards and developing pacing guides, along with lesson plans that are available to teachers online, Lutz explained.

He commented that a better job needs to be done getting information to the parents about the new math program. He also noted that two of top seven performing districts similar in size to Currituck use the EngageNY program, and that while none of those districts use textbooks, some do use workbooks. Lutz also pointed out that there are online supplemental resources (some are free, some the district pays for) that parents can access with their kids, adding that students love using those sites.

Those online videos review the lessons from the classroom, that can be helpful to both students and parents, and can be watched over and over as needed.

Board member Will Crodick commented that the district pays $200,000 for textbooks for students taking classes at College of the Albemarle, but spends nothing for books at the elementary and middle school levels, questioning the adequacy of just using online resources and contending that the trend is taking the parents “out of the equation” of being able to work with their children.

However, Lutz noted that teachers send home samples that students can work from, similar to a textbook, as a teacher at the work session added that students may be given four problems to work on at home, with one already solved so that the process can be applied to the unsolved questions, and is something parents can take part in as well.

Crodick also suggested that there needs to be more consistency between the schools, noting that lessons for the same grade level are being taught differently at each elementary school.

There are various ways for kids to learn, one educator in the audience commented, as Lutz added that the message is constant, and school superintendent Mark Stefanik added that the lessons will look different in different classrooms.

Lutz pointed out that the state will be setting new K-8 standards for the 2018-19 school year and that staff is revising the pacing guides to align with the new standards.

“We need to educate our students for the future, not our past,” commented board chairman Dr. Bill Dobney.

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