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District piloting new math program

School Committee 'skeptical,' hopeful about fourth grade plan

September 14, 2011
SOUTHBRIDGE — After venting some frustration over past partly effective curriculum ideas, the School Committee Tuesday night unanimously supported funding a fourth grade pilot program for math based on ideas from Singapore.

Dubbed "Math in Focus," the concept is in large part a return to older methods of teaching, with more visual aspects, that aligns better with the state's new Common Core frameworks than does the current "Everyday Math" curriculum, according to Math Curriculum Director Tamisha Thompson.

"It provides a greater focus on mastery" of a smaller group of math skills each year, essentially assigning certain things to certain years, she said. For example, it puts fractions between grades 3 and 5, as does the state standards, while Everyday Math spreads them out throughout all 12 school years.

She described the latter as a "spiraling" system that addresses all of the same core topics annually in small doses. Based on a chart she showed, it covers more than 100 topics in some years with only a couple of pages dedicated to each, while Math in Focus addresses maybe a third as many, but devotes seven times as many pages to each.

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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