Three Village committee gives green light for Go Math

Three Village committee gives green light for Go Math

Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services Kevin Scanlon speaks at a meeting. File photo

It was just a few years ago — 2011 to be exact— when Everyday Math made its rocky debut in Three Village elementary schools.

The district was among the first to move to a Common Core-aligned math curriculum, following the state’s adoption of the standards the previous year. One problem among many, said Kevin Scanlon, assistant superintendent for educational services, was that Everyday Math was only about 80 percent aligned to the new standards.

Now the district’s elementary math review committee is recommending that Three Village adopt a replacement, the Houghton Mifflin Go Math! series. The proposal follows an evaluation that began last year with the committee’s analysis of the district’s 2012-13 New York State math assessment scores.

The group also met with the representatives of four leading math programs — Envisions by Pearson, Mc Graw Hill’s updated Everyday Math 4, Go Math! and Singapore Math — and decided to pilot Everyday Math 4 and Go Math! this year. Of the two programs, the committee determined that Go Math! was best suited to Three Village students’ needs.

Unlike Everyday Math, which was put in place before Scanlon and the current superintendent assumed their jobs, the recommendation was meant to be a collaborative effort that included feedback from teachers.

Scanlon said elementary school teachers, who were given materials from both programs, were able to “experiment under their own professional discretion.”

“When we look at any of these products, nothing is going to take the place of great teachers in the classroom using their discretion with the students in front of them,” Scanlon said.

The committee — a cross-section of educators from each grade at the district’s elementary schools, as well as secondary math chairs and administrators — designed surveys for elementary teachers to complete. The most frequent rating for Everyday Math 4 was “fairly good,” while Go Math! was most frequently rated as “very good.” The surveys indicated that there was a clear three-to-one preference for Go Math!

The committee also examined the resources each program provided for parents to help their children at home. Committee members decided that Go Math! has the best resources for teachers, students and parents, while also offering opportunities for enrichment, remediation and English as a Second Language (ESL) students.  The addition of five elementary STEM positions, as proposed in the 2015-16 budget, would also support differentiation for students at different levels.

Because of the difficult transition to Everyday Math, board members said they were concerned about the simultaneous introduction of Go Math! to all grades. Scanlon responded that the change would be less tumultuous since both teachers and students have already worked with the Go Math! material.

Many districts across Long Island, including neighboring Comsewogue and Northport, use Go Math! which, according to Scanlon, is the most sought-after math program for elementary schools.

In answer to the board’s questions about what competitive districts like Jericho and Cold Spring Harbor use, Scanlon said that he is in the process of finding out.

“Our teachers picked what was best for the students in Three Village,” he added.

Though not advocating for the Envisions math curriculum, board members did wonder whether Three Village students would be at a disadvantage if they didn’t use the textbooks written by Pearson, the company that also writes the state exams. Scanlon explained that Pearson’s textbook division is separate from its test-writing division and that legally, the company cannot structure its books to the test.

If Go Math! is adopted, teacher training will begin in May, with voluntary training continuing throughout the summer. Teachers will continue to receive more in-depth training throughout the coming school year.

Scanlon said the district would save about $100,000 since it chose to pilot the program. Three Village will sign a yearly contract over six years, rather than purchasing all material upfront. The agreement means it will be easier to receive updated material, he said.