Adding new books: New program planned for elementary students

After several years of review and pilot programs, Wapakoneta City Schools administrators plan to adopt new math textbooks for students.

“We will see children learning more, adjusting to the challenge,” Wapakoneta City Schools Director of Instruction Julie Miars Golden said.

Miars Golden said after talking with each of the elementary teachers during the three-year selection process, they decided to go with Harcourt’s Go Math! series.

“Third-, fourth- and fifth-grade math scores were not where we needed them to be,” Miars Golden said of the reason behind the change. “When we compared our scores to those of comparable schools, we were at the bottom of the pack.”

The new curriculum was piloted in the district and visits were made with teachers in other districts using the math series.

The new coursework,which combines fresh teaching approaches with never-before-seen components, addresses the rigors of new standards and assessments, helping students achieve fluency, speed and confidence with grade-level concepts, according to Harcourt’s website.

It has been honored as one of the top programs of its kind with teachers and administrators saying they felt it provided students with exceptional resources and a streamlined learning experience, making rigorous new standards accessible to all learners and combining multimedia and textbook instruction.

Cost for the new curriculum is a little more than $12 a year per student, typically paid out of annual student fees.

Miars Golden said one of the primary differences in how the program will be used to reach children is that no longer will students be chosen by the end of third grade for super accelerated classes.

She said many of these students would later hit a wall in high school and need to go at a slower pace.

“Because Go Math! is more stringent and all children will be challenged, no one will be pulled out and placed in gifted classes,” Miars Golden said. “Differentiation is built into the series.”

Students in third- through sixth-grades would be presented with more challenging materials in their regular classes and then at the end of the sixth-grade “educated placement” of students could be made based on math test scores, achievement and other factors.

Teachers of kindergarten through fifth-graders are to be trained in the new curriculum this summer prior to its implementation in the fall.

“Obviously this was a big decision involving tons of people over a three-year process,” Wapakoneta City Schools Superintendent Keith Horner said.

Wapakoneta City Schools Board of Education ,ember Ron Mertz said he liked the flexibility of being able to adjust curriculum up and down based on students’ levels and board member Eric McKinniss said if they wanted test scores to go up they had to challenge students.

“The first year of new books, scores tend to go down as everyone adjusts,” Miars Golden said preparing administrators for what may be to come, explaining that new math standards also are going to be substantially more challenging.