Laurie Sekiguchi [Close to Home, Feb. 23], who claimed to speak for Montgomery County teachers and parents, called for the public schools' new math curriculum to be dumped in favor of a return to the old Instruction System in Mathematics.
That's the last thing teachers want.
The Montgomery County Education Association recently called a meeting of teachers elected from across the county to represent their colleagues on curriculum issues. This group of teacher leaders polled their colleagues, discussed the new curriculum and flagged problems with its implementation. The curriculum was rushed into grades 3 to 5, with no textbooks and no training, when it should have been phased in only the lower grades. But teachers also stressed that they didn't want to go back to the old curriculum.
Under the old curriculum, skills covered were not necessarily skills mastered, and parents were getting a false sense of what their children were learning. The new math curriculum teaches a concept and revisits it later in the same school year so that students can apply their prior knowledge to more advanced concepts. The result is students who can reason mathematically and apply their mathematical knowledge to real-world problems.
The new math curriculum sets higher standards for all students, and teachers support that. It is ironic that some members of parent organizations in Montgomery County apparently don't. But high expectations should not be for only a select few.
The writers are, respectively, a fourth-grade teacher and a first-grade teacher. Both are members of the Councils on Teaching and Learning, jointly established by the Montgomery County Education Association and the Montgomery County Public Schools.
Montgomery County has undertaken the monumental task of developing and implementing a world-class, standards-based curriculum in mathematics. We have encountered challenges, but that's no reason to abandon the effort.
The revised curriculum provides more depth, greater continuity and higher expectations about what children should know and be able to do. It is consistent with national and international benchmarks in mathematics, and it was lauded in a review by the College Board. It exceeds state and federal standards for individual student achievement, and it is accompanied by rigorous assessments, beginning early in elementary school.
The school system is working on revising content, instructional materials, teacher training, grade-level assessments and other components based on the experiences of students, teachers, principals and parents with the curriculum.
The improvement of mathematics instruction is an open process, intended to ensure that problems can be identified and resolved quickly and professionally, with the ultimate goal of providing a rigorous education for every child every day.
DALE E. FULTON
Associate Superintendent for
Curriculum and Instructional
Associate Superintendent for