Duluth School Board OKs new K-8 math curriculum

A new K-8 math curriculum approved Tuesday by the Duluth School Board is expected to raise poor math scores in the district.
Original Article By: Jana Hollingsworth, Duluth News Tribune

A new K-8 math curriculum approved Tuesday by the Duluth School Board is expected to raise poor math scores in the district.

The K-12 Math Curriculum Review Committee worked for three years to figure out what changes should be made, and picked new materials for those grades for an estimated $700,000.

The group presented its ideas to board members at last week’s education committee meeting.

With the new curriculum, “I believe our math scores are going to go up, and not just that,” said math teacher Patti Bambenek, head of the committee. “Kids will be enjoying math more.”

The money to pay for the books – Math Expressions for K-5 and Big Ideas Math for grades 6-8 – was taken from money budgeted for technology improvements within the district, Superintendent Keith Dixon said.

A learning disconnect existed for students moving from elementary to middle school and middle school to high school, Bambenek said, with not enough knowledge between teachers on what was being taught at each level.

The group struggled with disagreements on how to teach math, but agreed that a basic foundation of students knowing how to do the work and professional development of staff were important. The new curriculum will include those things, and has been used by some classrooms already to test its worth.

Teachers who’ve used the books said last week students were learning the “how-to” of math and were further along than they’d been in past years.

Board member Ann Wasson said she hoped the new books would be easy for parents to understand, but she trusted the teachers’ studies.

“I hope in the very near future we don’t have two-hour blocks of math [teaching], that we won’t need it,” she said.

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