New math program on tap for elementary students
SUMMIT COUNTY – Local elementary students will get an updated look at the third “R” next year.Summit School Board approved a new math program Wednesday night that will make its way into all K-5 classrooms for the 2005-2006 school year. Math books by Scott Foresman, a national publisher, and a hands-on supplement called “Investigations” will replace the existing materials, which have been in use for five years.”Math is a struggle in our schools, across our state and across the U.S.,” said Upper Blue Elementary principal Kerry Buhler. “We know this program is going to meet our needs and mesh with our curriculum.”The new materials blend a combination of traditional text book work with a more creative, activity-based approach to math, incorporating “the best of both worlds,” according to Buhler. Many “Investigations” activities include games and team exercises that reinforce math concepts and skills.
According to assistant superintendent Peg Kastberg, most elementary math publishers are moving toward that two-pronged approach in their materials.Next year’s districtwide implementation of the new program will make math materials uniform in all six elementary schools, allowing easier transitions for children who transfer from one school to another within the district.”All our teachers teach to the same standards, but now we’ll have the resources and materials to be consistent across all the schools,” Kastberg said.Twenty-six teachers in all elementary grade levels are already piloting the program this school year.
“The format is much friendlier,” said Silverthorne Elementary teacher Kirsten Shult, who has piloted the program in her classroom. “My kids are definitely much more prepared this year than they have been with the older series, where they were throwing four or five strategies at you on one page.”School board member Jay Brunvand, who serves as finance director for the town of Minturn, said that even he finds the current text confusing. Summit Cove fifth-grade teacher Debra Mitchell said the new text contains much clearer examples and explanations.District staff hope the new math program, along with several other math initiatives in the district, will bring them a step closer to chipping away at low math proficiency at the high school level, as measured by the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP). Last year, 37 percent of Summit High School 10th graders scored proficient or above in math on CSAP tests. Statewide, 27 percent of 10th graders were proficient.”It’s fair to say that our high school teachers are hoping their students come better prepared,” Kastberg said. “And it’s also fair to say our middle school teachers hope students come prepared with better skills.”
Students who enter 10th grade prepared to study Algebra II have a much better shot at demonstrating proficiency on CSAP.”There’s no magic bullet out there. The bar is high and the stakes are high,” Mitchell said. “I still need to pull in other resources to get my kids ready for 10th-grade algebra, but this is a step.”The new materials will cost the district about $80,000.Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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