Riverview Officials Look to Revamp Jr/Sr High Math Curriculum
Some officials and parents aren't happy with the performance of the current program.
After two years of using the same math program, Riverview High School teachers and administrators are hoping to continue to use the program and making changes along some way—some school board members and parents say ditching the program altogether is the best option.
The 2010-11 school year was the first in which the district implemented the Everyday Math, Connected Math and Discovering Math series, which focuses on higher-lever tasks.
Several parents had expressed concern about the program last year. Among the parents' concerns were the group work involved, the participation aspect of the class, the frequency of testing and the combination of students at different math levels in the same classroom. PSSA scores dipped, and parents said their children were struggling.
According to the Pearson Prentice Hall website, Connected Math 2 is a National Science Foundation-funded middle school program—for children in grades 6 to 8—that "provides students with an investigative approach to learning mathematics." The program also puts an emphasis on interactive problems and using everyday situations to teach math concepts.
At a school board meeting on Monday, high school principal Jay Moser said after reviewing the program this year, administrators and teachers have identified some challenges and gaps with the program. They recommend continuing the use, however, teachers also would supplement the portions of the program that works with others, creating a sort of "hybrid" or "blended" approach to math.
"A balance must exist between direct instruction and student-led investigations," Moser said. "That's not occurring now. To address needs, we're going to have to change."
Several math teachers attended the meeting in support of the proposal to revamp the program.
"All of our teachers are solidly on board," Moser said. "Their input has impacted this entire thing."
Mark Capsambelis, a high school math teacher, said he thinks the new plan is the best solution.
"We'll be able to pick things that make the most sense for our kids," he said.
However, school board member Ernie Tillman said he's not convinced revamping the old program is the right approach. He said he has spent hours researching the program and hasn't found any data supporting its success.
"You're going to have to do a lot of convincing for me to agree to continue with the program," he said. "We're doing a lot of struggling to keep this at the core. I think we made a bad decision and we're kicking it down the road.
"This is a recipe for disaster."
School board member Lisa Ashbaugh said officials and administrators haven't given the program enough time.
"The [PSSA] scores were bad years ago, so that's why we went with this program," she said. "What we did before wasn't working. I don't think we've given this enough of a shot."
Changing the program completely this late in the game wouldn't give teachers enough time to prepare for next school year, Moser said, because new materials would have to be ordered and more professional development would be needed for teachers to learn the material.
"It'd be a difficult task," he said.
Board member Lois Vitti agreed.
"I share the same reservations and concerns about the program, but I don't think we can rush into a new program," she said. "I don't think making a sudden left turn is the best think for the district and the students. That won't solve the problem."
Parent Anthony Lapiana said officials have been making excuses for the students' poor performance via the program since it was implemented two years ago. He said he doesn't think it's going to get any better.
"It's a nightmare," he said. "I don't know how we got here. I feel strongly that changing the program now isn't impossible."
Parent Robin Lazor shared those sentiments. She said her son struggled with Algebra last year, and he'll need a tutor when he takes Algebra II next year.
"I could tell last year this program had deficits," she said. "It's frustrating."
Officials will continue to investigate the current program and new math programs.
What do you think about the math program at Riverview Jr/Sr High? Tell us in the comments!