School district seeks public input on math curriculum

Michelle Theriault Boots

Everyday Math is set to disappear from Anchorage schools, and the public has a chance to help decide what will replace it.

The Anchorage School District held the first in a series of public meetings Thursday night to present options for replacing the long-controversial Everyday Math curriculum, which has been used in elementary and middle schools since the 1990s. More meetings are scheduled for Saturday and Wednesday.

The district is planning to replace the program, first piloted in 1995, with new curriculum beginning in the fall of 2013. The polarizing Everyday Math took a nontraditional approach to emphasizing math concepts and got only fair-to-poor ratings from surveyed district teachers during the 2010-2011 school year. It was a frequent focus of ire from parents who said they didn't get it and couldn't help with homework.

This year, the district began the process of adopting a new curriculum by soliciting materials from educational publishers, said Bobbi Jo Erb, a district math curriculum coordinator. Then a group of 90 teachers and a group of community members, recruited via social media and other outreach, narrowed the field from 16 finalists to six. Everyday Math didn't make it to the final round, Erb said.

Vendors will present materials at a series of public meetings that started Thursday evening at Central Middle School.

The finalists:

• Envisions Math (K-6)

• Math In Focus: Singapore Math (K-8)

• GoMath (K-6)

• Big Ideas Math (6-8)

• Carnegie Math (6-8)

• Glencoe Math (6-8)

Erb said she couldn't characterize the approaches represented by the finalist programs.

"I've intentionally not looked at them," she said. "We don't want the perception that our department has a favorite. We're simply facilitating."

The programs range from the K-8 Math In Focus: Singapore Math, which bills itself as the only U.S. program based on a widely used curriculum that has "propelled Singapore students to the top of international comparison studies," to Big Ideas Math, described in marketing materials as the "only complete middle school math program developed with the Common Core Standards" as its foundation.

Unless the K-8 Singapore math is chosen, both a K-6 and a middle school curriculum will be chosen.

The district has budgeted up to $5 million for the replacement, which would include materials and training, said ASD spokeswoman Heidi Embley.

The committee that makes the decision will be made up of 36 teachers and five community members. Community members are still being recruited, Erb said.

"We want it to be as transparent and inclusive as possible," she said.

People who don't make it on to the committee can still weigh in via feedback sheets that will be available at the public meetings.

Materials will also be on display at the ASD Education Center on five dates between Oct. 20-Nov. 5.

Public feedback will be accepted then, too.

The Anchorage School Board will make the final decision on which curriculum to adopt, Erb said.

That could happen as early as December.

Reach Michelle Theriault Boots at or 257-4344.

Math curriculum vendor presentations

GoMath (K-6)

• Saturday

• Noon-1:30 p.m.

• ASD Education Center, boardroom

Big Ideas Math (6-8)

• Saturday

• 2-3:30 p.m.

• ASD Education Center, boardroom

Carnegie Math (6-8)

• Wednesday

• 5-6:30 p.m.

• ASD Education Center, boardroom

Glencoe Math (6-8)

• Wednesday

• 7-8:30 p.m.

• ASD Education Center, boardroom

Materials display

• Saturday, Oct. 20

• Noon-3 p.m.

• ASD Education Center, orange room

• Thursday, Oct. 25

• 3-7 p.m.

• ASD Education Center, orange room

• Tuesday, Oct. 30

• 3-7 p.m.

• ASD Education Center, orange room

• Saturday, Nov. 3

• Noon-3 p.m. ASD Education Center, orange room

• Monday, Nov. 5

• 3-7 p.m.

• ASD Education Center, orange room

Anchorage Daily News