FRIDAY, JANUARY 22ND, 2021

PAUSD drops math program

The 62-member elementary school math adoption committee, which is comprised of Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) elementary school teachers along with District parents and administration, decided to pursue a controversial direction on Aug. 29.

The committee elected to no longer consider the elementary math program, Everyday Math (EDM), in the upcoming curriculum adoption.

EDM, adopted by PAUSD in 2009, was implemented after it received overwhelming support from the committee. Since its adoption, the District’s elementary schools, which have had high participation rates in EDM’s curriculum, have seen successful results — because of this, the decision to not even pilot EDM for the upcoming adoption has faced criticism from the Palo Alto community.

Since the implementation of EDM,  math curriculum has had varied results within the District.

In a survey conducted by PAUSD this spring, 40 percent of teachers reported that they did not use EDM, which was intended to be the primary math curriculum for the entire District.

This lack of participation in the curriculum over the past six years could be an indicator that the math program is not a good fit for PAUSD. However, the District’s elementary schools, which have had high participation rates with EDM, have performed very well over the last six years.

Palo Verde Elementary School, which had nearly  100 percent participation in the program, saw very positive results — the school climbed to second (out of twelve elementary schools) on the 2015 Smarter Balance test.

In addition, two out of the top three elementary schools within the district were avid users of EDM and had the highest percentage of third, fourth and fifth graders, exceeding state standards in 2016 were avid users of EDM.

Since the implementation of the statewide Common Core State Standards in 2013, teachers throughout California have attempted to supplement their current math programs, hoping to meet the new and stricter standards.

While this does provide a possible explanation for the low EDM participation rates throughout the District, the elementary schools with higher participation rates have continued to thrive with high percentages of third, fourth and fifth graders exceeding state math standards.

This suggests that when EDM is actually implemented, positive results are to follow. So, the question remains: why did the committee elect to not even pilot EDM for the upcoming adoption?

Raquel Goya,  a teacher for Hoover Elementary School’s math department (consistently rated among the highest in the District), told the Palo Alto Weekly that given the amount of time teachers have spent testing materials and researching possible curriculums over the past months, she felt that Monday’s vote was too rushed of a decision.

She maintained that the vote failed to consider EDM in the upcoming adoption, “Why are we moving forward so quickly?”

After the vote took place, the math committee decided to pilot two new K-5 curriculums: “Investigations” and “Bridges in Mathematics,” not even considering the readoption of the EDM Curriculum.

Despite only being recently introduced to the committee, Bridges in Mathematics has received high levels of support as it emerges as the possible frontrunner in the upcoming math curriculum adoption.

While the decision to not consider EDM for the upcoming adoption is under scrutiny, whatever curriculum is adopted by PAUSD will have a significant impact on the education of PAUSD students. The elementary school curriculum is responsible for laying the critical mathematical foundation for middle school and high school curriculums to build on.