New Milford to test new mathematics curriculum

By Nanci G. Hutson

THE NEWS-TIMES of Greater Danbury, CT
June 18, 2005

NEW MILFORD - Some teachers will work with new math programs in the next year as a prelude to overhauling how math is taught in the elementary grades.

At least one of the programs to be tested will be a traditional math curriculum. It is welcome news to some parents and members of the Board of Education who think the current math program doesn't do a good job of teaching basic skills.

A traditional program would use text books that follow a structured, chronological approach to teaching essential math facts. The math program now being used, called Everyday Math, relies on work sheets that introduce children to a variety of problem-solving skills.

Parents who don't like Everyday Math said they can't follow what their children are learning because there is no textbook and they have a hard time helping with homework.

Thursday night, the school board's Committee on Learning approved a new set of curriculum standards it will test in classrooms in the coming year. In August, the full board will review the curriculum and materials.

Under the new guidelines, two teachers in each grade between kindergarten and sixth grade will teach two pilot programs. After hearing those teachers' critique of the materials, the district's math curriculum committee will choose a single program to be adopted district-wide. The district will continue to use the Everyday Math program for the 2005-2006 school year.

Assistant Schools Superintendent Thomas Mulvihill, who is in charge of the district's curriculum and instruction, said the new curriculum materials ? officially called the scope and sequence frameworks ? would be in his office in the next week or so for review by board members and members of the public.

Mulvihill said the new program would pare down some of the information taught to younger students, following criticism from parents some children were being overwhelmed.

"We have taken to heart the idea we have heard from many of the concerned parents that less may be more,'' Mulvihill said.

He emphasized students would learn the skills they need to know for the state's standardized exams.

School board member David A. Lawson said he wants a traditional math program that stresses learning basic skills earlier.

Board member Julie Turk said she wanted the district to look for curriculum that is more strenuous, not less.

Lisa Diamond, another member of the board, said she favors keeping the public informed about progress with the math program. But she plans to rely on the expertise of the district's math teachers to determine what materials should be chosen.

Contact Nanci G. Hutson
or at (860) 354-2274.

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