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Toting math's impact

Program replaces a failing curriculum

The Wells Junior High cheerleading team does a short basketball cheer for the School Committee Tuesday. They were being recognized for winning a recent tournament at Shepherd Hill. Gus Steeves. (click for larger version)
March 09, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — School Committee members are, in Scott Lazo's words, "optimistically cautious" about how effective a new middle school program will be at improving math scores.

Called "Impact Math," the committee approved its purchase last fall, and the school started using it in January in grades 7 and 8.

Math Coordinator Tamisha Thompson said it's supposed to be a three-year program, but the district only has materials for two years at present. It compensates in sixth grade by melding the existing K-6 "Everyday Math" program with elements of the new one based on state standards.

Whether that mixture will work is "too early to tell," she said, and the uncertainty prompted Chairman John Jovan Jr. to wonder whether the district should consider axing the final year of the elementary-level program to implement the new one fully.

"The last math program we had, people came in an poured on the accolades of how well it'd work, … and we went forward with it," said member Thomas O'Leary. But he noted he sees that a lot as a doctor regarding new drugs — only to hear about the negative side effects later — and asked Wells Principal Jason DeFalco whether he had concerns.

"Not yet. I haven't seen anything that's alarming to me," DeFalco responded. After sending a couple teachers to a Framingham school that uses Impact, he said they reported "one of the biggest drawbacks I've heard is that the text is fairly cut and dry, not a lot of color, not a lot of pictures."

See Thursday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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