Not only will students at L.J. Hauser Junior High School get a double period of math at school each day during the upcoming school year, they will also be learning a new math curriculum. The district has adopted the middle school math curriculum produced by the Pittsburgh-based company Carnegie Learning.
The decision to adopt the Carnegie middle school math curriculum was made last spring under the leadership of former Director of Academic Excellence Brian Ganan and former superintendent Bhavna Sharma-Lewis.
But the new curriculum received a strong endorsement from the district’s new assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, Merryl Brownlow.
The Carnegie math curriculum is very conceptual and emphasizes learning by doing, which fits in with the new Common Core state standards, which emphasize thinking and application as opposed to rote learning, Brownlow said.
“It’s going to be very hands on and student-centered in terms of the students owning a lot of the learning and a lot of the discovery around the math process,” Brownlow said. “And it’s going to have a lot of real world application, so it’s not just going to be learning a formula and memorizing it and applying it. It’s going be doing the problem solving and the investigation and the analysis and the synthesis of how the concepts work with the application.”
This week Hauser math teachers and special education teachers who focus on math, are receiving two days of unpaid training in how to teach the new curriculum by representatives of Carnegie.
Professional development and more training will take place throughout the school year. District 96 is paying Carnegie $110,558 for the new curriculum.
The new curriculum will align with the math curriculum used at Riverside-Brookfield High School, which also uses Carnegie Math, Brownlow said.
The math curriculum at the district’s four elementary schools will not change this year, because Carnegie only publishes a math curriculum for grades six through 12.
Brownlow said that she is looking for a new K-5 math curriculum.
“There are very few things out there that are 100 percent aligned to the [Common Core] standard, so we’re looking at which resources might best meet our needs so we’ll be working on that this year,” Brownlow said.
Brownlow will also be forming a committee to revamp the district’s science curriculum. Last year, the state of Illinois adopted new science standards called the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Next spring students will take a new computer-based statewide test in science based on the new standards.
District 96, like most school districts in Illinois, will not have a new science curriculum in place this year to teach to the new standards. At the school board’s committee of the whole meeting on Aug. 4, Brownlow told the board that she intends to begin testing pilot programs in science instruction at Hauser in the 2016-17 school year. Final adoption of a new middle school science curriculum tentatively is scheduled for the for the 2017-18 school year.
“We’re mandated to align,” Brownlow said.
Grades K-5 will be one year behind Hauser with final adoption of a new or changed science curriculum scheduled for the spring of the 2018-19 school year. The district adopted a new K-5 science curriculum two years ago.
“[The current science curriculum] is good starting point for the K through 5 because that’s an inquiry based system, but we’re still going to need to look at integrating the technology and engineering practices that come with the new science standards,” Brownlow said.