Math teachers faced with avoidable obstacles in math curriculum

This letter was submitted to the Fairfield Board of Education and the administration:

To the Editor:

As you are well aware, the math department, under the direction of Dr. Paul Rasmussen, has been working avidly and diligently to promote an understanding of the new Common Core State Standards to staff, administration and the community. An emphasis has been placed on the importance of students’ ability to retain and maintain competence with math goals and objectives in preparation for the 21st Century needs.

However, we have been confronted with obstacles that could have been avoided. These issues have hindered our optimal success this year with CPM. In an attempt to summarize some of the outcomes during the year, we wish to document the following points:

• Our eighth grade algebra teachers are very disappointed and frustrated with the consistent negative feedback from some of the parents of the community. In fact, it appears as if the parent relationships with staff have increasingly grown more adversarial.

• A noticeable trickle-down effect occurred with the students of these negative parents. It was evidenced in math classrooms that particular students had an apathetic and negative outlook, seemingly learned by their parents’ outlook.

• False misconceptions existed all year long; both at BOE meetings and in the local media. These false allegations went so far as personally naming and wrongfully accusing an eighth grade algebra teacher of not teaching during public comment at a BOE meeting.

• To the contrary, students of the parents who have been supportive, positive, and enthusiastic about the new math program thrived, demonstrating student successes. These children worked diligently and learned the concepts needed through the discovery method. Clearly, not all of our students met with failure. Many were, in fact, quite successful.

• The use of CPM allowed students the opportunity to learn mathematics through the use of real life situations to greater depths than in past years with much teacher guidance and instruction.

• Differentiation took place as well all year. Teachers surveyed their classes, administering daily instruction, conferencing, re-instruction and extra explanation as needed.

Our math curriculum continues to develop and our department has been applying the practical methods and utilizing rigorous instruction to emphasize the knowledge and skills students must acquire to move onto each upcoming grade level. The approach has been coherent and has correlated to the students’ conceptual levels of understanding. Allowing for further development of the math curriculum will only result in student proficiency and success, noted in standardized testing, district assessments and grades.

 

Grade 8 Math Teachers

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