Pelham School Board Moves Forward with Math Program Study

Pelham school officials are hopeful that a review of its math curriculum will begin next month.


Pelham school officials are moving forward with a comprehensive study of its controversial math curriculum.

The school board agreed to the scope of work with representatives of Rutgers, Syracuse and Seton Hall universities along with Bank Street College to work with the district’s curriculum, instruction and assessment council to review the math curriculum during Monday’s school board meeting.

The work is expected to cost about $18,000. The district is now in the process of hammering out the final details of a contract. The review would be conducted from January through May.

Peter Giarrizzo, the district’s assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and personnel, said faculty members from the math departments of each institution will look at different aspects of the math program. They will also meet with teachers, parents and students to get their feedback.

“The high points of this are that there will be classroom observation, there are going to be focus groups involving parents...they will evaluate what we’re doing with our kids and they will make recommendations,” Robert Eicher, the school board president, said Monday.

Even if a recommendation is made to change the curriculum, Eicher said the change wouldn’t take place immediately. It would take at least a year for the district look at other math programs and train its teachers, Eicher said.

The district’s elementary school math curriculum, “Investigations in Number, Data and Space," has come under fire from a number of parents who believe and doesn’t place enough emphasis on a traditional, systematic algorithm-based learning and homework.

The concerns have been shared by parents and educators across the nation.

,  a group of parents founded the Pelham Math Committee with the goal of getting the district to switch to another curriculum.

Jennifer Slattery, a member of the committee, said she is disappointed that the board moved forward and approved the scope of work. One reason is that she feels that the Rutgers University math department has exhibited a bias toward Investigations.

Although the school district’s math curriculum review will include observations from three other institutions, Slattery said enough time wasn’t given for district parents to chime in. She is also disappointed that the item wasn't listed as a motion on the night’s agenda and it was voted on at the last minute of the agenda.

“We had  questions about why they chose those universities and why they believe they are unbiased,” Slattery said. “I would have asked them because if you don’t have it on the record and in public, how do you know why those decisions are made?”

Eicher said the board received information about the scope of work before the agenda was printed up on Friday. He said that the board had no intention of trying to sneak a vote past the public. If that was the case, the board wouldn’t have the vote during a meeting that was being recorded to be shown on public access channels.

“I’d never make a good spy if that was the case,” Eicher said.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said Jennifer Slattery was disappointed that the scope of work was inlcuded on Monday's night agenda.

Saml Adams December 21, 2011 at 12:14 PM
Keep in mind this board moved forward with the approval of the study in the dead of night after specifically stating to the meeting attendees no vote would be taken--then waited until virtually all left, then voted. Let's put it out in the open--the Rutgers program is heavily funded, repeat heavily funded by the National Science Foundation--which just happens to be the primary funding source for researchers that advocate "constructivist" math programs. The founder of the institute at Rutgers wrote virtually all academic papers and books on the virtues of....constructivist--based mathematics. Big surprise. If you want to connect another dot, the "peer review" that the Pelham administration cites as the validation of the effectiveness was written by the Tri-State Consortium--which, surprise, surprise, is led by an educator who left his prior district during a highly contentious dispute with parents over the ineffectiveness of the constructivist math program he put into place in that district. He himself is an outspoken advocate for and author on the topi. Let's stop jerking around here. The children of Pelham are being ill served. The facts are clear. Multiple districts have dumped this program because it is ineffective. Rasheed, stop taking the talking points from the BOE and administration (leave that to the Pelham Pravda....I mean Weekly) and do some real reporting.
Charles Stern December 21, 2011 at 03:03 PM
The board allowed presentations to run on with no time boundaries. That pushed board business into the late evening. It's the oldest trick in the playbook. The C&I director explained that in 2006 a thorough process was used to select the Investigations math curriculum. It should be pro-forma to assess whether it has been effective, just look at the last 5 years of test data. It's not clear why there's mystery and intrigue surrounding this issue. The board prez said that $10,000 was not enough to adequately evaluate Investigations, but that $18,000 will get results. Seems expensive and over-complicated, but at least it's for something that impacts learning.
Saml Adams December 29, 2011 at 02:29 PM
Have you seen the "thorough process" or any of the outcome analysis. Bet not.


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