Friday, June 22, 2007
Parents, teachers respond to math program survey
Superintendent Marie Doyle announced the Carlisle School Math Review Team has completed Phase I of the math curriculum review. In preparation for reviewing and possibly replacing the current math program, Chicago Math, the Math Review Team has collected data from parents and teachers from an online survey. The team is composed of teachers, administrators and parents.
According to the Curriculum Review Process published by Doyle in September of 2006, Phase I consists of developing a "vision," understanding the goal of the curriculum review, understanding the current program, and determining strengths and weaknesses of the program by gathering data on the program from many sources. The final step, analyzing the data, is not complete but the team plans to complete the analysis by September.
Data collection and analysis
The review team met seven times in order to develop the survey, reported Doyle. In order to collect data from as many parents and teachers as possible, the survey was circulated online. Forty-six out of the 51 teachers and special educators responded, although some did not answer all questions. Approximately 268 parents responded, some for multiple children, though again not all questions were answered.
"The plan is for a subcommittee to analyze the data over the summer," said math team member Alex Krapf, "and then present and discuss the results early next school year. These discussions will hopefully yield a short list of curricula that then have to be evaluated/piloted. How the pilot phase will work is still undefined and up for discussion." Krapf says he plans on doing independent analysis, looking for "data that's hidden in the comments as well as in the detail datasets." For example, he will look at the data by grade level to look for trends. The work is very time consuming.
Krapf is also interested in the similarities and differences between parents' and teachers' expectations. Some examples of issues that he has noted are how students are placed in honors math, and the concern some teachers express about getting through all the math material in one grade.
Both teachers and parents are concerned about basic math skills, said Doyle, though teachers and parents do not agree on when and how math facts should be mastered. "Kids need drill on the math facts," said committee member Dale Ryder. Doyle said there is confusion as to who's responsibility it is to "drill" students in their basic math facts (addition, subtract, multiplication, division), either the school, or the parents or both. "That's what I hear from parents; that they have to drill it because they are not getting it at school," said Ryder.
After the data evaluation is completed, the math team plans to create focus groups of teachers and parents to discuss the math program in October, review results of focus groups in November, and then evaluate possible new math programs in December. In January, Doyle said, they would "narrow down" possible programs and begin comparing them, with a goal of piloting programs in the fall of 2008. "The teachers think it is a rush," she admitted. How the programs will be piloted is still to be worked out, said Doyle. The traditional piloting method is for many teachers to try different programs and compare their results. But, Doyle explained, that approach does not give teachers a chance to compare the programs individually. She would like each teacher to pilot every program.
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