Parents concerned as school district moves on new math curricula

Parents concerned as school district moves on new math curricula

The Bellevue School District has adopted two pilot programs for high school math as it prepares for a curriculum change during the 2010-2011 school year.

Teachers alone selected the trial materials, causing a backlash from parents who wanted a say in the process.

“The district has quite a history of leaving parents out when it comes to curricula selection,” said district parent Karen Campbell. “One thing that concerns me is that (up until the latest elementary math curricula, Math Expressions, was chosen) the curricula for elementary, middle school and high school has just been terrible.”

Bellevue schools Assistant Superintendent Jan Zuber defended the district's decision, saying: “Up to this point, the process has always been one of teachers looking at the materials.”

“I think teachers really are the ones that should consider the materials they're going to be using,” she added.

The district selected its two trial curricula from Holt and Discovery, whose texts ranked highest on a list of initial recommendations from the state superintendent's office.

Pilot lessons with the new books are taking place this spring, and will continue through the fall of 2009.

A State Board of Education (SBE) review determined that only one of the chosen texts, the Holt Algebra-Geometry series, meets minimum standards for mathematical soundness.

State Superintendent Randy Dorn is expected to recommend the top three math curricula this summer, after taking input from the SBE.

Campbell suggests the school district should wait until then to select its pilot materials.

“It seems to be a waste of money and going against common sense for any district to adopt a new curriculum that is not up to the best standards and doesn't meet the SBE criteria,” she said.

The district adopted a new elementary math program last year after just one trimester of testing in which relatively few parents reviewed the materials.

Parents have said the selection process happened too quickly.

Zuber claims that won't be the case this time.

“We're not racing ahead,” she said. “We definitely want to find out if there's more information from the state and get feedback.”

Zuber also said the district will make its pilot math materials available to all parents.