Family Math Nights
Seattle Schools hosted a series of Family Math Nights to help parents and students learn about upcoming changes and challenges to the Seattle Public School Mathematics Curriculum. Topics covered included helping your child with math at home, questions parents can ask, computational fluency, algorithms and mathematical proficiency, and relationships between research and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Standards.
Teachers and administrators at the Family Math Nights stressed the importance of deeply engaging all elementary school students in mathematics instruction that is meaningful in order to create a learning environment in which students are math literate. The meetings were led by Gini Stimpson, a University of Washington Mathematics Educator and Senior Researcher. Examples of student work from Seattle Public Schools were shared in order to show what students were currently learning and what more they needed to learn. In addition, parents received valuable suggestions for how to help their children improve math skills at home.
Mathematics Curriculum Adoption Overview
Seattle Public Schools began a district wide initiative to improve the mathematics curriculum in late 2005. The last time that new textbooks and curriculum were considered varied for each level of schooling. Seattle Public High Schools last revised their curriculum in 1993, elementary schools in 1998, and middle schools in 2000. The push for new textbooks and curriculum is based on the recognition that student achievement must improve in order to meet the new graduation requirements in Seattle Public Schools. In order to meet these new graduation requirements, research into the best mathematics programs available began.
After conducting extensive research into new mathematics curriculum, Seattle Public Schools concluded that the new programs must be similar for each grade so that students move progressively through a range of math experiences that reflect the same practices and approach. The research also indicated that the curriculum and instruction need to focus on the achievement standards in order for a high percentage of students to perform at the required proficiency. In order to monitor this, assessment needs to monitor student progress within and between grade levels. In addition, the cultural needs of students needs to be considered in developing effective instruction.
Mathematics Curriculum Timeline
In October 2005, the Seattle Public School District began the process by selecting a committee of teacher, parents, and administrators. This committee included representatives for English Language Learners, Special Education, and various ethnic groups. This committee sought feedback throughout the community to choose the best teaching program for Seattle Public School students. The community has had many opportunities to learn about the various programs and offer feedback on which ones would be most appropriate for Seattle Public School students.
From November 2005 to January 2006, the committee developed a screening process that offered opportunities for the community and families to increase awareness and understanding of the new mathematics curriculum and why it was chosen. From February to March, the committee evaluated the best candidate programs in order to recommend a program to the Seattle Public School Board. Based on their recommendation, the Seattle Public School Board determined the best mathematics program for the students.