The Palo Alto school board will discuss the selection of new elementary mathematics curricula on Tuesday morning in advance of a vote on the proposed textbooks at its regular meeting in the evening.
A large committee of teachers and parents have recommended the district either pilot two new textbooks -- Investigations and Bridges in Mathematics -- or pilot both along with a third, Eureka/Engage New York, as an approved supplementary curriculum. Third- through fifth-grade teachers expressed more support for Eureka/Engage New York than the lower-grade levels.
Staff is now recommending a third option: to pilot all three, considering that Eureka/Engage New York is a free, online resource. This is despite the fact that Chief Academic Officer for Elementary Education Barbara Harris told members of the Elementary Math Exploration Committee at the Aug. 29 meeting that piloting three curricula would be hard on teachers.
The elementary-math committee also voted to drop from its list of recommended curricula the newest version of Everyday Math, which has been the district's officially adopted elementary-math textbook since 2009. Many teachers reportedly no longer use Everyday Math because it does not meet the more rigorous Common Core State Standards, and district administrators thought its troubled history in the district would make adopting it this time around unlikely.
Superintendent Max McGee wrote in a staff report that following Tuesday's discussion, the board will hopefully approve a set of materials at its regular meeting in the evening so the pilot could begin in October. If the board approves two curricula, the teachers on the adoption committee would pilot both this school year, starting with one textbook in October through December and the second in January to March, according to a timeline included in Tuesday's agenda packet.
The district plans to spend the fall and spring collecting data from teachers, students and parents on the pilot materials before recommending a final curriculum for adoption in the 2017-18 school year.
Staff will also give an update Tuesday morning on a math textbook pilot already underway at the district's three middle schools. Materials for two chosen curricula -- Math in Focus and Big Ideas -- have arrived and teachers have participated in training from the publishers of the textbooks being considered, McGee wrote in his report.
"Providing time for teachers to 'demo' the online platforms, explore the resources (print and online), and discuss with their colleagues the program components has been extremely beneficial," he wrote. "With the current school year well underway and the trainings completed, the teachers are ready to begin using the materials to see what they offer."
A separate middle school math-adoption committee plans to present a recommendation to the board in March to implement a new textbook in fall of 2017.
If time permits, the board will also discuss potential changes to board policy and administrative regulations related to textbooks' alignment with Common Core standards, a potential requirement or "encouragement" for independent, third-party validation of any new materials, clarification around conflict of interest for curriculum-selection processes and clarifying the difference between an "exploratory" and pilot process for testing out new curriculum, the staff report reads. (The district engaged for the first time last year in an exploration of materials, during which teachers could choose from eight curricula to try out in their classrooms, rather than a pilot, which would require board approval.)
If there is not time to discuss these policy changes during Tuesday's two-hour meeting, they will be postponed to a policy-study session on Tuesday, Sept. 27.
Tomorrow's meeting will be held 8-10 a.m. at the district office, 25 Churchill Ave. Read the full agenda here.