Committee sticks with same math curriculum recommendation
February 16, 2010
By Chantelle Lusebrink
The Issaquah School District’s Instructional Materials Committee voted Feb. 11 to recommend school board members purchase the Discovering Mathematics textbooks to replace its aging textbooks.It is the same recommendation that was given a year ago.
Amid uncertain curricula recommendations at the state level, and push-back from district parents, Superintendent Steve Rasmussen pulled further decision making off the table until better discussions could be had with state officials and families.
In the past year, the district has done just that, said Assistant Superintendent Ron Thiele.
“I will tell any person that I believe we have been incredibly thoughtful in our process and our decision,” Thiele said.
District officials held meetings, gathered surveys and talked to parents and students about the curriculum adoption process and the teachers’ reasoning for choosing it — mainly because it has the best blend of inquiry-based and mastery-based learning to reach all students, Thiele said.
But it is a year later and there is still controversy surrounding the decision, this time in the wake of a King County Superior Court ruling against Seattle Public Schools for adopting the same curriculum. In that decision the judge said there is “insufficient evidence for any reasonable Board member to approve the selection of the Discovering Series.”
District officials have taken the suit very seriously, Thiele said.
“As an associate superintendent, I was shocked by it because I know Seattle had a very rigorous process,” he said.
The district’s council has also looked over the Seattle case and is reviewing its pertinence to Issaquah’s adoption.
The decision has spurred people like Mark Van Horne, a professional engineer and founder of Save Math In Issaquah, to take on the school district’s process.
“We’re very disappointed that IMC has chosen to move forward with the recommendation,” Van Horne said. “We believe that the data that led them to select the Discovering series over the Holt series is misguided.”
Save Math In Issaquah is hosting an informational meeting about the textbooks at 3:15 p.m. March 6 at the Issaquah Library.
“I would recommend people do take the opportunity to look at the instructional materials while on display, but also encourage people to do research on their own about them,” Van Horne said.
He and others would have liked the district to include math professionals in the curriculum review and selection process, not just teachers.
“If our job were to produce engineers then having [engineers] on the committee would make perfect sense,” Thiele said. “But that’s not what we’re doing. We’re teaching the public. Within the public there will be a percentage of students that go on to be engineers but there are a large percentage of them that will go on to be successful in fields unrelated to math.”
School board members aren’t expected to make a decision on whether to adopt the textbooks prior to the end of March. If approved by school board members, the Algebra I and II and Geometry textbooks would be in classrooms by the start of the school year, after extensive teacher training seminars in summer.
Community members can view the materials during normal business hours at the district administration building though March 10.
-Feb. 12- March 10: Key Curriculum Press Discovering Mathematics materials on display at the district administration building, 565 N.W. Holly St.
-Feb. 24: Employees on-hand to answer community questions about the materials, 1-3 p.m. at district offices.
-March 6: Save the Math In Issaquah organizational meeting, 3:15-4:45 p.m. at the Issaquah Library, 10 E. Sunset Way.
-March 10: Employees on-hand to answer community questions about the materials, 10 a.m. to noon at district offices.
-Late March: School board members to adopt or reject.
Go to www.issaquah.wednet.edu.