New MCPS math curriculum sparks concern

Dec. 29, 2012, 3:09 p.m. | By Aanchal Johri | 9 years, 11 months ago

Parents and teachers worried Curriculum 2.0 inhibits advancement

Earlier this school year, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) introduced Curriculum 2.0 to all elementary schools, generating both approval and concern among parents and teachers around the county. Recently, a petition against this new curriculum surpassed 1000 signatures and was brought to the Board of Education on Dec. 11.

Many parents and teachers are concerned that Montgomery County's new math curriculum will not cater to different learning abilities. Photo courtesy of Montgomery County Public Schools.

Previously, elementary school students were exposed to various math concepts one year and relearned many of those concepts the next. According to Blair Cluster coordinator Shruti Bhatnagar, teachers will teach fewer concepts a year under Curriculum 2.0, but will delve deeper in each one. "This curriculum is built around developing students' critical and creative thinking skills," she said. "The curriculum is created to build a stronger foundation for elementary school children so they are better prepared for greater success in middle and high school."

This change will also make it harder for students to skip ahead, as repetition of concepts will be nearly eliminated. Blair MCCPTA delegate Tom Jacobson supports this aspect of the curriculum. "I feel the benefits of more in-depth teaching outweigh those gained by students skipping levels, and I have heard evidence of kids skipping ahead too quickly," he said.

The curriculum had been piloted at several MCPS schools, such as Montgomery Knolls Elementary School in Silver Spring, during the past three years, but this year marks the first time that it has been implemented in kindergarten through third grade classes at all MCPS schools. Next year, the curriculum will expand to fourth and possibly fifth grade. The curriculum upholds the Common Core State Standards, which aims to boost American students up to par with Canada, Israel and other international countries that excel in education.

Some MCPS staff members and parents have expressed disappointment in the rigidness of the new standards and believe that the curriculum will not cater to different student abilities. According to an article published by the Gazette on Dec. 5, former MCPS Board of Education member Laura Berthiamue left her job at the Board earlier in December and pulled her kids out of MCPS schools. The decisions were made "for personal reasons, partly including Curriculum 2.0 and how math is being taught in Curriculum 2.0."

Both parents of accelerated kids and of struggling kids raised their concerns about the curriculum. While many parents are concerned that the curriculum will not allow their children to advance ahead, other parents believe their children will struggle under Curriculum 2.0. Bhatnagar believes that children are still challenged under the new curriculum. "Teachers can appropriately challenge the kids who need acceleration while staying within the curriculum 2.0," she said.

Blair parent Jaya Durvasula, who has a child in a MCPS elementary school, believes that the curriculum is pragmatic for students in the long run. "I think a deeper curriculum lends to a better assessment of student readiness for next level," she said. "Sometimes a quick brush though too many concepts may appear to be effective in the short run but does not get retained by the student for a prolonged period of time. I believe deeper dive into concepts will provide sound fundamental knowledge and the student is able to retain the concept and its application for longer period of time."

Jacob Scott, Blair Algebra I teacher, believes that the previous curriculum was flawed. "Students are inevitably not exposed to all the concepts they need to know." Scott, who also tutors private school students, believes that private schools curriculum goes more in depth than MCPS's does. "I definitely see a difference in the public and private sector."

Blair pre-calculus teacher John Giles agrees with Scott and recognizes that the previous curriculum needed reform, as he can see gaps in understanding in his high school students. "There's not a focus on having an understanding of what they're doing. It provides access to answers not understanding," Giles said. He especially opposes the previous practice of relearning concepts that were only exposed to students the year before. "Touching on topics briefly and coming back to them is illogical," he said.

For more information about Curriculum 2.0, click here.

Tags: MCPS Jacob Scott math Curriculum 2.0 Jaya Durvasula John Giles Laura Berthiamue Shruti Bhatnagar Tom Jacobson

Aanchal Johri. Aanchal Johri ('14) served as co-Editor-in-Chief of Silver Chips Online with Jack Estrin from 2013-2014. In January 2014, Johri represented Silver Chips Online at the White House as the only high school journalist to <a href="">cover</a> the White House State of Science, Technology, Engineering and … More »

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