Math Audit and District Response Mean Curriculum Changes Coming
Monday's Board of Education meeting saw discussion of the PDK math audit and recommended changes
Changes to the Kindergarten through grade 12 math curriculum are certain, though not likely to be sudden. Rosetta Wilson, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, presented the district's "Response to Math Audit" at the Monday Board of Education meeting, including a timetable for implementation of changes. For most grades, the 2010-2011 school year will be one of planning and revising existing curricula.
Superintendent Brian Osborne introduced the report by reminding Board members and the public that Phi Delta Kappa International (PDK) was engaged to conduct a "Curriculum Management Audit" of the district's math curriculum, grades K -12. The audit was conducted in fall of 2009, and findings were released in June of this year. Results were presented to the Board in June, after the evening's vote on "Leveling Up."
The audit was based on data provided to PDK by the district, as well as a three-day visit by the audit team. This was a "Deficit Audit," which lists problems, rather than commending achievements.
Monday night's presentations were the district response to the study, which was undertaken to better understand the racial achievement gap; to examine varied approaches and quality of instruction; and to receive objective feedback.
Introducing the results on Monday night, Osborne said, "We have quite a bit of work to do." The 169-page report, available here, as summarized on Monday, found that SOMSD's math curriculum is, first, "inadequate in scope" and not "deeply aligned with New Jersey's core curriculum standards and assessments." Resources used in teaching math within the district have not all been adopted by the Board of Education, and Board policies "do not provide adequate quality control to guide sound curriculum management."
Second, teaching strategies and student work samples were not consistent, and "a commitment to all students achieving at high levels, as expressed by the superintendent and board of education, is not consistently evident."
Third, the school system can better use data to "inform curricula, instructional, and programmatic decision making," specifically as it addresses the racial achievement gap.
The full report includes photos of math classes from several district schools and quotations from teachers and other interviewed by the committee.
PDK recommendations were summarized in the following four points. (The underlines are from PDK.)
1. Develop a comprehensive multi-year implementation plan that addresses the findings and recommendation contained in curriculum management audit reports. Align district decisions and actions towards closing existing gaps in students' mathematics achievement.
2. Develop and implement a curriculum management system that establishes an aligned curriculum available to all students and supports attainment of the board's student learning goals. Design a comprehensive K-12 mathematics curriculum that is aligned vertically and horizontally and deeply aligned to state assessments.
3. Develop and implement a comprehensive plan for student and program assessment that will provide meaningful formative and summative data for decision making leading to improved student achievement. Align student and program assessment with the curriculum management system.
4. Design and implement a comprehensive professional development process that provides for coordination with the curriculum management plan and for the use of student achievement data in the evaluation of the effectiveness of professional development and efforts.
Wilson noted, "a big lesson learned" from revamping the English/Language Arts curriculum was to go slowly. Specifically, she reminded the Board that, "less is more," "plan before acting," and "communication to all stakeholders is key." Board member Wayne Eastman reiterated the latter point, inviting interested members of the public to contact him or other members of the curriculum committee.
With those lessons in mind, Wilson explained that the current school year "will be used for collecting data and creating a cohesive plan of action." During this year, supervisors will develop plans; Wilson will present an update to the Board in April.
Wilson noted additional considerations. To raise the performance of underachieving students, she will consider limiting class sizes for developmental math classes, especially Level 2 Algebra. Seth Wolin, Student Representative to the Board of Education spoke in support of this proposal.
In addition, Wilson proposes scheduling Level 2 classes earlier in the day, but not period 1. Mandated participation in supplemental math classes for grades 6 – 8 (Project Ahead, which is now optional) was also listed.
Board member Richard Laine asked if it would be possible to begin implementing changes this year. In addition, Board member Lynne Crawford asked if an interim update would be possible, sometime before the scheduled April meeting.
Both could occur, said Wilson, though the first implementation of any changes is scheduled for grades 3 – 12 in the coming, 2011-12 school year. By 2013-14, all grades from K – 12 should see changes in math curriculum and instruction.