GOWANDA – Superintendent Dr. Robert Anderson has said previously that Gowanda needs to improve in how they instruct some subjects, with math being a particular focus point. This topic is one that he reiterated at a Board of Education meeting earlier this month.
“One of our systematic areas that needed improvement is our instruction in math and potentially even reading in K-8,” he said. “It’s not really uniform. Our teachers work extremely hard and our students work hard as well but there’s not really consistency in structural approach and sometimes when students get to high school, they come with various degrees of preparedness for higher level high school math courses. “
Enter Ashley Wakelee, Gowanda’s Director of Learning and Continual Improvement, who presented the board with a new math program that would help math instruction in grades kindergarten through eight become linear.
“When I started working in the district, there was a request as I started getting acclimated in the buildings and talking to our principals and classroom teachers to look at what we’re doing with our math programming,” she said. “This in no way indicates the instruction that takes place now isn’t terrific, the teachers are doing a great job with what they have, but there was a request to be vertically aligned between grade levels.”
The main goal of the program is to have a common language in how math is taught from kindergarten through grade eight, so that when students get to high school math, that same uniformity can transfer over to help kids adjust.
“Our goal in adopting a new program is to have that common language with universal strategies so students from one grade level to the next are used to the strategies that continue to build as they move on,” said Wakelee. Wakelee said samples were taken from McGraw Hill’s Reveal Math, SAVVAS ‘Envision Math, Houghton Mifflin’s Go Math, and Learn Zillion’s Illustrative Math, then rated each on their alignment to next gen math standards, their focus, and if they were online friendly. Each grade level team then submitted their evaluations on the programs back to Wakelee, and a deeper dive was done into the Envision program from SAVVAS.
“SAVVAS Math is a program that is rated clean in each area at all grade levels,” said Wakelee. “None of the other programs we took a deep dive into were rated in green in every grade level.”
Part of what makes the SAVVAS program the best one is the math screen and diagnostic tool that’s included with it. Wakelee said they took a deeper dive into it to see all the logistics and said they’re really excited for it.
“That’s a really nice tool that puts students exactly where they should be with the online component,” said Wakelee. “It really tailors lessons to their individual needs based on how they answer the questions and allows the teachers to assign individual assignments.”
Included in the total cost of the SAVVAS Envision program, which comes out to just over $ 145,000 for the school is not only the program, but professional development as well that would come in house to work with the staff in two separate sessions, as well as continued online support.
Should the school move forward with the program, implementation of it would include materials arriving this summer, followed by teachers coming in during the summer to have a hands-on look at them themselves prior to attending the training.
The Board of Education took no direct action on the newly proposed curriculum, but seemed to be receptive to the idea of it. The next Gowanda Board of Education meeting will take place on Wednesday at 6:30 pm