School District U46 will decide on whether to approve a professional development contract for K-8 teachers at the Monday meeting.
Officials recently discussed the prospect of opting into a one–year, $35,500 contract to pay Great Minds for the purposes of curriculum and instruction.
Director of Curriculum and Instruction Trisha Shrode said professional development will play a key role in the way K-8th grade math teachers support the needs of students moving forward.
“Middle schools are beginning their implementation,” she said of Eureka Math. “They’re a few years behind our elementary schools and these are the suggested modules to prepare teachers to begin implementation of the program.”
Board member Jeanette Ward noted that she supported U46 last year in its decision to award the Eureka Math contract. She said the program now leaves her with reason to be concerned.
“To me, Eureka Math looks like English as math instead of math and it looks like teaching how to get to Geneva by way of China,” she said.
Shrode said rolling out the new program means there will be opportunities for learning and growth not only among students but U46 teachers.
“I would say that there’s a continuum of learning for teachers as they implement a very new resource that was different than the other resource,” she said. “Think about any new resource. It takes time and as you implement the resource, you identify new needs. Just like in other instances, if you want this to go well, we have to continue to develop teachers in the areas they see need – one of which is differentiation.”
Ward questioned if the program’s set up is able to reach students who may not be gifted but fall at different levels along the spectrum.
Shrode refuted the concern saying the design of the resource allows teachers to reach each student at their level.
Differentiation is built into the resource, she said, noting how that brings U46 to the next step in the implementation process: professional development.
“In some of these differentiation workshops, they actually show the extension of the activity into other grade levels so that continuum of how that model still works when you go into more advanced mathematics,” Shrode said.
Shrode said if U46 gives the resource more time, they’ll start to see students developing deeper understandings conceptually that many students struggle with mathematically.
Student advisor Eric Loera noted the way math has changed at the elementary and middle schools over the years. He said he sees why parents might see room for concern.
Still, Loera said programs like Eureka Math provide a number of worthwhile benefits.
“I’d like to see how Eureka really does put more attention to later on in the years when you have to worry about time and you have to pick out the best method that works for you and is the quickest,” he said.
The contract, if approved, will be paid for using Title I and Title II funds.