Our math program and teacher compensation

Poor quality math curricula hurts the educational outcomes of our children, and compromises the work environment so important to retaining top quality teachers.

I have been concerned for some time about the quality of our Everyday and Impact Math programs being used in our elementary and middle schools. Personal exposure via my children, anecdotal commentary by fellow parents, discussions with Newton’s teachers, and a study of national literature and reviews strongly suggest that these two math programs are compromising the math education of Newton’s children.  

For one direct and alarming example, I met with a Newton South High School math teacher recently, and asked how well prepared the ninth graders are for high school math. The teacher laughed, and told me that the teachers tend to compress the year’s curriculum somewhat so they can create 2-3 weeks at the beginning of the 9th grade specifically for remedial math time. This person noted that the incoming students are weak on the fundamentals.

This is distressing to me on a couple of levels. First, as a top school system, this seeming gap in math capability among matriculating students is inexcusable; its repair should be a strong focus of our curriculum coordinators.

Second, this reflects a math program weakness in NPS that leaves this teacher less impressed with and less proud of working in this particular system. It feels great to be working within a well-oiled machine, and this feeling can be a compelling bonus above monetary compensation. Instead, we demonstrate to our teachers that the curriculum quality and progression is not tight and they must rely on their individual resourcefulness to compensate.  Is NPS blind to this reality?  One is left to wonder who is providing leadership in support of our teachers.

Well written, content-probing teacher surveys should help expose deficiencies like this to NPS. Let’s make this happen. This will benefit our kid’s education, and can help us clarify the non-monetary rewards we must offer our excellent teachers to keep them here.