Comments, ideas and concerns about the math curricula at Andover Public Schools

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Next School Committee Meeting Tues. Feb. 27

Start time: 7:30 pm
Location: School Committee Mtg, 2nd Floor
School Administration Offices,
36R Bartlet Street
Agenda in PDF

Also broadcast live on Comcast Channel 10 (see Channel 10 for rebroadcast times.)

It would be good to learn when we will hear the answers to the rest of the questions from the math roundtable on January 31!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Follow-up to Roundtable and WMS PAC Meeting

From a parent; sent to WMS principal Denise Holmes: The following is the question that I submitted at the 31 Jan math round table, and that I also asked you last night.

Our CMP program seems to have two goals:
1. to ensure that all of our kids are up to Proficient on MCAS
2. to ensure that the best of our kids learn nothing beyond that

For able students, CMP is boring. And, it is grossly inefficient.

Why can’t APS redeploy its teachers to offer two classes per grade, based on ability-grouping for math, with the advanced math classes offering more traditional teaching methods and more challenging material?

This is the statement that I handed to you last night. [See the first comment to this entry for the statement.]

To repeat myself:
1. Andover should have advanced math classes in grades 6-8
2. CMP is a poor MS math program

What would happen if APS's MSs created advanced math classes in grades 6-8 that did not use CMP? <insert crowds of cheering adults here>

The reason why I am more of an advocate for advanced MS math than I am for replacing CMP is merely my assumption that any advanced MS math program will either not use CMP or will use a mixture of real math and CMP.

Letter to the Editor

The February 8 edition of the Townsman published a letter to the editor from Kathy Zigmont about the math roundtable. Some very interesting points and questions!

Friday, February 9, 2007

CMP Questions

From a parent: After hearing at the WMS PAC meeting that the 7th grade curriculum is being supplemented with material from the prior curriculum and hearing from a 7th grader who said two of his weekly enrichments are dedicated to math, I’m wondering two things:

1) How can the administration evaluate the CMP program when the students are not getting CMP exclusively?

2) How is the CMP program a better program than traditional math if students need after school MCAS review and additional math enrichments? It sounds as if the students need more time working on math just to cover the basics.

Friday, February 2, 2007

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Coverage in the Townsman

There was a brief article on the middle school math roundtable on page 3 of the February 1 issue of the Andover Townsman (newsprint version only - no link!) Although the article was written before the meeting (the meeting was held after the Townsman's deadline) the topics mentioned by parents quoted in the article were raised at the forum. It is not known whether anyone from the paper was in attendance at the meeting.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

What Data?

At several points in the administration's presentation, it was mentioned that we are in the data gathering phase of the curriculum review. MCAS trends are but one data point, and many have pointed out that differences in student cohorts and tests from year-to-year make it challenging to normalize those trends. In-town test results can also be used (again assuming they remain constant) but the impact of outside tutoring is not well-understood. Some parents at the roundtable suggested PSAT and SSAT scores. These are not useful for measuring the entire student population, but could give insight into advanced learners -- a population that parents and teachers feel are not being effectively served by the current implementation of math in the middle schools.

What data points would be useful to measure the effectiveness of the curriculum?

Middle School Math Roundtable

A very informative meeting was held at Wood Hill Middle School the night of January 31, with a literally standing-room-only turnout surpassing all expectations. Approximately 120 interested parents, educators and students joined 4 School Committee members (Tony James, Art Barber, Deb Silberstein and Dick Collins) and a 9-member panel from the school district. Former School Committee chair Tina Girdwood served as moderator.

The audience listened respectfully as Marcia O'Neil and the principals and math curriculum committee members from each of the middle schools delivered a 60+ minute presentation on the middle school model, the math curriculum, and the process for evaluating and improving the implementation of math at the middle school. Dozens of questions were submitted to the moderator, and several were asked and discussed by the group at large. Unfortunately, the meeting was adjourned by the adminstration with only a fraction of the topics discussed in the open forum.

This blog provides an opportunity to continue that discussion, through new topics being posted and comments to those entries, without concern for time limits and without fear of interruption.