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Bedford Schools to Pick New K-5 Math Program

BEDFORD, N.Y. — The Bedford Central School District will choose between two different math programs to install in the coming year for its elementary school program, moving away from its current math program “Math Trailblazers,” which has been taught in the district since 2003.

Last week, parents of the Bedford School District met for two sessions with Drew Patrick, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, and Donna Swift, the elementary math consulting teacher for the district, to discuss the two choices and how they will be chosen from.

“I’m very interested in the process of deciding what will be going forward for them so they can be better learners and I can be better tuned with what’s going on, and I can help them with homework and understanding,” said Tracy Brookman, a mother of two children in the Bedford Central School District.

The two choices for the district are “Math In Focus” and “Investigations: In Number, Data, and Space.” As explained by Patrick and Swift, both programs have their strengths. “Math In Focus” is a “top-ranking program” hailing from Singapore that has been used in the United States for three years and includes a practice called “mar Modeling,” which is highly recommended by Swift to help visualize math. “Investigations,” on the other hand, has been around longer and thus has more specific data as to its success rate over the recent years.

The math program will be changed in 2012 because of a cycled review of programs in the district, as the math program was on the docket after a seven year “curriculum cycle.” Also, the common core standards have been altered by the state, which has also forced the district to rework its math program.

“We did surveys in 2010 and we found that 67 percent of the teachers felt we should be looking at an alternate math program. When you have that kind of evaluation, we definitely needed to look,” said Swift. “And with the additional factor of the common core standards changing what we’d need to teach in certain grade levels, those two things made it a good time to change.”

The meetings last week were met with mixed results. While some parents were pleased they had a chance to get a preview of the district’s choices, others said they felt the talks were too administrative-based.

“I feel we have a better understanding of the administration’s problems and their situation, but it doesn’t necessarily translate to what our children need,” said Brookman. “It felt a little lopsided.”

Swift and Patrick both acknowledged the complaint and promised to change the way they inform parents in the future about future changes in curriculum. For now, the district said it would make a decision between the two programs and a selection committee, made up of 17 teachers throughout the elementary schools, will take in all of the opinions of parents, teachers and students.  The group will meet on March 14. Swift and Patrick noted that the final decision will be made at the end of the month.

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