California Schools Grapple with Implementing New Math Curriculum | #schoolsaftey

During other framework rollouts, districts have sent teams of teachers and administrators to training and then had them relay information to the rest of the staff, said Kyndall Brown, one of the framework authors and executive director of the California Mathematics Project — one of the state’s partners. It’s something that could be replicated during a math framework rollout.

Even if there are conferences teachers can attend, one professor said she isn’t a huge fan.

“One day of hearing these ideas doesn’t necessarily translate into having a balanced curriculum — at all,” said Karajean Hyde, co-director of the UC Irvine Math Project. “It doesn’t necessarily create change in the classroom.”

To create changes that will increase students’ proficiency in math, teachers need trainers who will work with them consistently in and outside of classrooms, Hyde said, which is work she does with her colleagues.

Brown said school districts do have pots of funding that could be used for professional development, such as special education funds or funds from the Local Control Funding Formula.

However, the governor allocated a $50 million math, science, and computer science professional learning grant in the 2022 budget to help fund professional development. Some allocations have been given to the county offices of education, Torres said, and the offices handle how the money is used.

The timing of the grant worked out perfectly with the beginning of a math framework rollout, said Ellen Barger, an associate superintendent of curriculum and instruction at the Santa Barbara County Office of Education. Other grant funds are being used to support rural school districts in particular, and the most recent grant will help to continue building coherence across all counties and to fill gaps.

“The framework is one of the tools that’s helping us achieve a vision of high-quality mathematics for every California student, and we are building structures to bring people together to build knowledge and skills to operationalize that vision in every county, district and community,” Barger said.

Equity in implementation

As of this school year, 939 school districts in the state will have to find resources to support educators in teaching under the new guidelines, which align with the California Common Core State Standards for Mathematics passed a decade ago.

How to make that equitable will be a difficult task.

Each school district has different needs, unique populations, and different levels of resources. For example, a district with more than 50,000 students typically has more resources and staff to support professional development. A district with fewer than 50 kids might have just one staffer taking on multiple roles.

Brown said some school districts have yet to finish implementing the Common Core standards, which detail what students in each grade level need to master.

Only about 35% of California students met or exceeded math standards this year, only about 1 percentage point higher than the previous year. Smarter Balanced Assessment results were lower for Black and brown students. (Daisy Nguyen/KQED)

“There was no rollout of the 2013 framework [common core standards],” Brown said. “You had county offices and math project sites doing what we could, but we’re running into teachers who still don’t know about the elements of the common core standards.”

There are also always new teachers coming into schools who will need to be trained, Brown said. “We have years’ and years’ worth of content.”

But at least some colleges of education at California universities have had many aspects of the math framework already embedded in their curricula for the last decade. Professors at UC Davis, UC Irvine and UC Riverside all spoke about how ideas in the framework have been used in their classrooms and the long history of controversy over how to teach math.

Hyde, co-director of the UC Irvine Math Project, works with districts to train teachers and students in the credential program to teach math. For years, she said, the focus has been on student engagement, understanding motivation, including student identities in lessons, and building healthy classrooms — all included in the math framework.

Hyde said most teachers teach how they were taught, learning shortcuts to solving math problems. This results in current and future teachers not understanding the mathematics behind what they’re teaching.

During professional development training, Hyde and other Irvine professors make sure educators begin to understand the concepts behind what they are teaching, she said. They spend time co-planning lessons, observing lessons being taught and relating what they are teaching back to the common core standards.

“We need to make sure teachers understand the math and how to teach the math first, and then it’s easier to help them consider, ‘How do I make this more engaging? How do I connect this back to the kid’s prior experience?’” Hyde said.

If teachers don’t understand the content, Hyde said, “I fear they will just have a series of super fun, engaging lessons that kids feel super good about, but they’re not mastering mathematics. I feel, in turn, that that is going to increase the achievement gaps that we already have that are horrible in California.”

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