Seattle School Board rejects enVision Math, adopts Math in Focus

Seattle Public Schools logoAt its June 4, 2014 meeting, the Seattle School Board voted 4-3 to adopt Math in Focus as its math curriculum for K-5 schools starting in the 2014-2015 school year.

Math in Focus is adapted from Singapore’s My Pals are Here Maths for the North American market.

Previously, most of Seattle’s schools 59 elementary schools had used Everyday Mathematics.

A Math Adoption Committee (MAC) reviewed many options and recommended  the adoption of enVision Math from Pearson.

The Committee discounted Math in Focus because it wasn’t aligned to the Common Core State Standards and had a higher cost than enVision.

For many years, a community-wide, grass roots coalition has pushed for consideration of Singapore Math® materials in Seattle. One Seattle school, Seattle’s Schmitz Park Elementary, has successfully used Primary Mathematics under a waiver of District requirements for many years.

On June 4, several school board members justified their support for Math in Focus rather than enVision by citing:

  • the program’s clarity and rigor,
  • how its visual approach works for struggling readers and English language learners,
  • backing from teachers and the community, and
  • their view that Math in Focus was worth the higher price.

The Board considered, but rejected, a proposal for a dual adoption of both enVision and Math in Focus. Ultimately, the Board voted to adopt Math in Focus on a 4-3 vote.

Interested in reading or hearing/watching more? Here are some links to coverage of the Seattle School Board’s decision:

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Maths in Singapore


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Singapore Math Adoptions – including Corporate Support – Among News from the summer of 2012

More adoptions of Singapore Math are in the news, with notable support from corporate partners in a couple instances…

Ogden district invests in Singapore Math program

Following a very successful pilot of Singapore Math at three of its elementary schools, the Ogden (Utah) school district is adopting the curriculum district-wide. Leanne Rich, the district’s coordinator for curriculum and professional development, said of the success of the Singapore Math pilot program:

We saw immediate, dramatic results…Now what we will have is independent mathematicians for all our students.

Rich also noted that students don’t have to rely solely on the teacher for everything — they learn to think independently.

Jessica Namovicz, a first-grade teacher at James Madison (one of the pilot schools), said the program teaches students how to manipulate numbers and to see numbers in concrete terms:

I can watch them set it up in their heads.

As an aside, it’s nice to see the headline that indicates the District’s implementation of Singapore Math is an “investment!”

DPS considers Singapore math pilot program for Y.E. Smith

Next week, the Durham (North Carolina) Board of Education will consider a proposal experiment with Singapore Method Math at Y.E. Smith Elementary School thanks to funding from the SAS Institute.

Lewis Ferebee, Durham Public Schools (DPS) chief of staff, said that the pilot program aligns with the new Common Core curriculum standards that go into effect this fall, as those standards call for problem-solving skills and depth of understanding in the first year.

Caroline McMullen, director of education initiatives at SAS Institute, said that the prominent software engineering company has a vested interested in making this pilot program work: SAS wants workers skilled in mathematics and statistics:

We’re a global company, but we want to focus on North Carolina.

While acknowledging cultural distinctions between Singapore and Durham, area superintendent for elementary schools Stacey Wilson-Norman, said:

The focus on problem-solving and emphasis on the essential math skills recommended in the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Curriculum Focal Points aligns with our focus….No one thing yields substantial and continued success. Key transformation strategies have been selected to aid in the progress of Y.E. Smith to support instructional and operational changes. We are very proud of the recent results achieved and see a shift in the culture of learning.

MasterCard Grant Helps Train Wentzville Math Teachers

Since the Wentzville (Missouri) School District implemented the Singapore Math curriculum in 2008 (funded with a grant from MasterCard), improvements in student test scores have continued to outpace the state average. MasterCard provided funding for additional Singapore Math teacher training this summer.

Curriculum Coordinator David Brothers said:

Singapore Math makes sure that students have a deep understanding of mathematical concepts before getting them to the memorization of traditional algorithms and that allows the teachers to dive into the rigor much sooner and at deeper levels than a traditional math curriculum.

And you thought schools took the summer off.

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In the news: Schools rave about Singapore math


Some recent schools in the news:

Mansfield Township woman learns Singapore Math overseas

Director of the Lower School at Gill St. Bernard’s School in Peapack-Gladstone, New Jersey heads to Singapore to learn about Singapore Math.

*A word of caution for Ms. Campbell-Rush…after teaching Singapore math in an elementary classroom for several years, I visited Singapore in 2007 to learn about it from the source.  That experience rocked my career trajectory. I returned even more excited by the curriculum and embarked on a new career: championing Singapore Math and working with schools and teachers to adopt it effectively.

At Marymount of Santa Barbara, Math Is No Problem: Students excel with an engaging method that raises the bar on achievement

Marymount School finds the curriculum has a…

…profound impact on the mathematical abilities of its students.

Bland Elementary using Singapore math

Singapore Math is …

“…a strategy that helps kids break down multi-step word problems and makes it easier for them to do,” explained Diana Tibbs, Bland Elementary School principal. “I was skeptical at first, but now I’m very impressed.”

Madison’s New School Superintendent On Going To The Next Level And Why Less Is Sometimes More

Weston school piloting Singapore Math finds…

“Our biggest takeaway is the ‘less is more’ approach. The program goes to a level of depth so students understand they are not just plugging in numbers

What’s The Big Deal about Singapore Math?

Taking a look into what differentiates Singapore Math from other methods, and why parents are raving about it in the Philippines.

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Student confidence climbs at schools adopting Singapore Math

Recent articles on schools adopting Singapore Math highlight improved student confidence:

From Singapore to Montecito: Crane’s new math program revolutionizes how children learn

Lower School Math Specialist Pete Glynn likes how…

the Singapore method teaches confidence by having students dive deep into each math topic until they get a strong understanding of it. Introducing visual concepts early on make learning easier for the students than starting off with numbers and symbols on a board.

Winona Area Catholic Schools embraces Singapore math method to boost scores

Since starting this year with Singapore Math, first grade teacher Jani Giaquinto already sees confidence improving with the program:

“I have one little boy who, in the beginning of the year, would just cringe like, ‘Oh, I don’t get this,’ and now I bet you wouldn’t know which one that was,” she said. “He says the answers right along with everybody else.

Finally, Raritan Valley Community College in New Jersey will be offering Singapore Math summer classes for 1st and second graders.

Image courtesy of woodleywonderworks

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