.

SPF Math Supervisor Suggests Board of Ed Renews Everyday Math Program

Mathematics Supervisor John Veninger of the Scotch Plains-Fanwood school district urged the board to renew the Everyday Math program as early as possible.


At the Feb. 14 Scotch Plains-Fanwood Board of Education meeting, Mathematics Supervisor John Veninger made a presentation on the successes of the Everyday Math program and encouraged the board to renew the program to the 2012 version.


Many of the board members found Veninger’s presentation informative and helpful and they seemed to agree that renewing the program would be in the best interest of the children. The Scotch Plains-Fanwood Board of Education will be voting on the renewal of the Everyday Math program at the Feb. 21 meeting.

Veninger informed the board that last year’s goal of the mathematics department was to align the programs with the content standards of the common core standards put forth by the state. Now that the programs are aligned, the goal this year is to focus on the practice standards.

During his instructional update he explained the practice standards to the board as well as presented a movie of the elementary school students learning math in their classrooms.

In Veninger’s movie, Dr. Evans, Principal of Coles Elementary said that Everyday Math shows that the students love math and teachers love to teach math.

“I’m very confident this program addresses what really matters in teaching the mathematical program,” she said.

Following the movie presentation, Veninger stated that the view into the classrooms should demonstrate that the current program aligns to both the content and the practice standards.

“Though we always endeavor to improve student performance we can say that the program has been successful for a wide range of students based on our longitudinal testing data and student affect - those visible by the high schoolers,” he said.

He added that the 2012 copyright version of Everyday Math comes with new technological applications that parents can use at home, which they are very excited about.

When the meeting opened to the public, Fanwood resident Michael Lewis discussed his concerns with the Everyday Math program and reminded the board of a study done by the Bridgewater-Raritan School District about the limitations of the program. Lewis also submitted the same letter to Patch which you can read here.

“It’s not a matter of winning or losing or right and wrong it’s what is best for the children,” Lewis said.

Board member Douglass Layne thanked Lewis for bringing the letter to the board’s attention and said he found it to be very informative reading about the program.

Layne also asked Veninger if the district is seeing a drop in the number of students taking algebra in high School because it is one of their goals is for students to be at the algebra level before freshman year.

Veninger said they are consistently seeing a drop in High School algebra students and there is only a small subset of students who continue to need extra time to mature into algebra. He added that there are also an increasing number of students taking top classes and most students make it to the calculus level.

Jeanne Cleary of the Board pointed out that when her son was in elementary school she had frustrations with the Everyday Math program but after her initial concern she realized the success of the program after by seeing how excited her son was to do math.

Board President Trip Whitehouse added that his wife, a math teacher in another district, said she sees no issues with Everyday Math and it is most successful when followed through into Middle School and High School math, which the SPF district has been doing.

“A program like this that does allow you to come up with your own strategies with the support of the educator in the room, I don’t think we want to let that go,” Whitehouse said.  “Especially where we are seeing results.”

Whitehouse closed by saying that finances will never be a driving force on what curriculum choices the board makes.

For Patch’s previous article on the board’s examination of the Everyday Math program, click here.

Michael Lewis February 19, 2013 at 04:48 AM
It is entirely possible that the concerns raised in my original letter were fully discussed in committee. That said, it strikes me that this is a logical time to take a broader look at the Math Curriculum – especially when any dollar-cost differential associated with changing programs is seen by the Board to be minimal (and again, I do not for one minute discount the investment in teacher training and resources that a new program would require). My challenge was to find a template that would allow an evaluation of alternative programs that took it out the realm of the anecdotal and subjective. Having found one, it would be my hope that more than three programs might merit consideration by our Board, and that more questions might be raised about all of them. Even Bridgewater-Raritan thought “Everyday Math” was "alright" (they too were working with it for a period of time, and the program was seen as satisfactory in the earlier grades there as well). Given that the district will be working with any program selected for an extended period, the real question is not whether “Everyday Math” is "alright", but whether something better might be out there based on some objective standard.
Ally Musano February 19, 2013 at 03:47 PM
I really enjoyed your letter Michael. Thank you. I find it very unfortunate that most of us parents (myself included) in the district don't have more time to attend these meetings. We are not well informed at all about what is proposed to go on in the teaching of our children. When it is time to vote for the school budget, there are notices EVERYWHERE. It is even more unfortunate that when looking into the renewing of a program, parents are not given an option of weighing in. After all, WE are the ones at home trying to figure out why post 3rd grade, many of our kids do not have all the basic facts memorized! The answer is always, "Don't worry. If they don't get it this time around, they'll get it the next time." That is crazy to me. In my opinion, children grades K-6 would be better served by a program rooted in basics mastery. Everyday Math may have some valuable implications- once the basics are mastered. I find the quote in this article by Dr. Evans interesting, that this "program addresses what really matters in teaching the mathematical program". I realize that I did not see the movie to understand the full context of this quote, but I wonder what exactly "really matters". Based on my experiences, committing to memory the basic facts must not. Is it too late to get the word out to parents to voice their opinions before this vote?
Derek February 19, 2013 at 05:50 PM
I hate this math program. I just don't think it teaches the basics properly. Lets take multiplication and the ball park estimate. The math question turns out to be 6 x 46 BPE = 6 x 50 The kid can't calculate that so guesses at 500. BPE now =500 Kid does the multiplcation and somehow gets the correct answer = 276 The BPE is way off and no checking is done on the answer to ensure its correct. Now, same scenario but the kid gets the wrong answer for 6 x 46. They get 480 this time. The BPE is almost that so they think the answer is correct. But they still don't know why both answers are wrong. I would much rather see a checking mechanism tought to them so that if you multiple 6 x 46 and get 276 then you take your answer and divide it by the smaller number (6) and you should get the other number (46) as the answer. If not, something is wrong somewhere. The number triangle goes someway to teach this but I don't see that being pushed hard enough. BPE is a joke unless you can do the math already. I know, I'm old (43) and do it the old fashioned way but I get the correct answer every time!!!!!
Jenni February 19, 2013 at 06:50 PM
I also dislike the Every Day math program, it confuses some children and bores others. As a matter of fact, my oldest attends private HS and freshmen year struggled to catch up in math and writing after leaving SPF school district as an A student. We had to pay for a private tutor, many hours of hard work, tears and dollars later - thankfully doing well. The younger kids are all bored with the math circle. Seems the program teaches down & not up
Derek February 19, 2013 at 07:43 PM
Jenni, so true. Fantastic story. Does anyone older than 20 understand the "lattice" method. What a very confusing way to teach. Surely it would be easier to just teach it the "proper" way and learn tables. I can do them back to front, front to back, inside out, upside down and all the way up to 12 x 12 because that's how it was back then.
Ann February 20, 2013 at 01:17 PM
Yes, and I can remember crying over long division because I didn't understand it all those many years ago. Everyday Math is an excellent math program. It doesn't just teach you to plug in numbers, it teaches you to understand why. It shows you how math works in "everyday" situations. Perhaps some children need more drill on facts as homework. I know that's what I had to do when I was a child.
Michael Lewis February 20, 2013 at 02:16 PM
@ally – First, let me again repeat that there actually IS a degree of parental support for “Everyday Math” which was confirmed at the PTA Coffee at Terrill several weeks ago. PERSONALLY, I believe much depends on the extent to which children can work around its limitations – be it through outside enrichment (Sylvan / Kaplan), teacher one-on-one, continuing parental involvement or some combination. I also PERSONALLY believe that , because of the its inadequacies, the “Everyday” part of “Everyday Math” is a bit of a misnomer – if one does not have a firm grasp of the numbers supporting policies, it is very difficult to have a confident opinion on those policies and are thus essentially left trusting others. I may be older (and “Everyday Math” is certainly NOT my daughter’s parents’ Mathematics!) but I have lived long enough to know that experts are not always right – oftentimes simply more self-confident in their presentation. There is a SP-F BOE meeting Thursday February 21 at the Administration Building behind Evergreen School (the main meeting GENERALLY starts around 8pm). This is an important issue and truly deserves more discussion than it is getting.
kettle black February 20, 2013 at 05:16 PM
Does anybody know if our sewer fees this year are being calculated in real or everyday math?
Ally Musano February 21, 2013 at 04:38 PM
Honestly, I just feel like the quality of the education here in general is inflated. To keep this discussion about EM specifically, it is not just about what the program lacks, but what it includes. For example, I find it silly that my 3rd grader's homework this week involved placing parentheses in the proper spot in a math problem. Especially when she needs a number grid to do the double digit addition or subtraction! She is not the only child like this! And when Mr. Veninger speaks about the "small subset" of students even taking Algebra at the HS level, I have a child in that small subset. He is not the only one either! Did he remember to say that HE makes the call as to what math freshman math students get? From my personal experiences at Coles, Terrill and the High School, I have NEVER heard anyone sing the praises of EM. Not that it doesn't happen, Michael, as you say there are some people who support it, but I have not heard of it. And I have 4 children across 3 district schools. What I have heard is many people spending $50+ an hour on math tutors and students who were in AP classes in HS needing to take remedial math in college. I'm just saying that it deserves a 2nd look and more parents should have the opportunity to weigh in. And on one final note, I would just like to commend the people who use their real name when commenting. If we are not ashamed of what we have to say, then we should own our words.
Nicole Bitette (Editor) February 21, 2013 at 06:38 PM
Hi everyone, the board will be voting on the renewal of Everyday Math at tonight's meeting at 8pm.
Lorna Everhart February 21, 2013 at 09:21 PM
I am a third/fourth grade teacher retired from the SPF district. I was one of only a handful of teachers who were the pilots for the EM system. I agreed to pilot it because I thought it was the dumbest math program I had ever seen. Then I studied it, learned it, and taught it. I saw how it taught the students to understand what math was all about, including what numbers really are and mean, how to take numbers apart and put them back together in different ways to come up with the correct answer, different ways to do the same operations and get the correct answers, and most important how to use strategies to understand a real life problem and to solve it. There are areas of the program that require more emphasis than the program allows for, but it is so with any program. After all, a program is only the vehicle for teaching a subject. The teacher and the way it is taught is the most important. I know that children who couldn't master an operation doing it the rote way just because the teacher said so, began to understand what it was they were doing, and because they could use numbers in different ways could now master the operation. I saw children doing in fourth grade math that was previously done in middle school. Do the children need time, practice, and strategies to master the basic facts? And it is up to the home as well as the classroom to provide the practice. No child ever mastered math by memorizing the basic facts. EM math teaches more than facts.
Derek February 22, 2013 at 12:10 PM
Although I don't like the program and I have made some comments above regarding this, if Lorna Everhart likes it, then I will support it. I know how good a teacher she is and I respect her knowledge on this subject.
firedup49 March 18, 2013 at 04:09 PM
"I agreed to pilot it because I thought it was the dumbest math program I had ever seen". You should have gone with your common sense, and said NO to this (Common Core) program that the only purpose is to will only dumb down our kids.
firedup49 March 19, 2013 at 01:37 AM
I meant no disrespect to Lorna Everhart. Her gut feeling was right. My children went through the SP school system, and found it the best. I am shocked that they would approve again Common Core when many teachers, parents, principals when found out what it was are now against it. Please look into it further if you have doubt .
Look under the covers March 19, 2013 at 03:03 AM
Firedup49. You do know that your links are from self-professed conservative sites, with the one article being written by Michele Malkin. They, and apparently you see the Common Core as something akin to the ficticious Agenda 21 that has conspiracy theorists in a lather. If it was the best when your kids had it, what has changed?
firedup49 March 19, 2013 at 02:39 PM
I am thankful my children have graduated from a good school. With this new federal program the BOE has accepted I would have never enrolled my children in the school system. Did you know with this new system, that Handwriting requirements are missing from Common Core Standards, raising concerns among parents and educators. Dumbing down? Think tank slams costly move to Common Core curriculum http://www.educationnews.org/ednews_today/95888.html Feds’ invasive student tracking database http://www.yourhoustonnews.com/courier/opinion/feds-invasive-student-tracking-database/article_0a78211d-21e6-5110-b538-a9e6bdfd5606.html?mode=story The National Education Data Model, available online at http://nces.sifinfo.org/datamodel/eiebrowser/techview.aspx?instance=studentElementary Secondary, lists hundreds of data points considered indispensable to the nationalized student tracking racket. These include: •“Bus Stop Arrival Time” and “Bus Stop Description.” •“Dwelling arrangement.” •“Diseases, Illnesses and Other Health Conditions.” •“Religious Affiliation.” •“Telephone Number Type” and “Telephone Status.” http://www.missourieducationwatchdog.com
firedup49 March 19, 2013 at 03:28 PM
I am happy that my children have graduated from the SP school system. I would not want them to be part of this federal program Did you know with this new system, that Handwriting requirements are missing from Common Core Standards, raising concerns among parents and educators. Dumbing down? Think tank slams costly move to Common Core curriculum http://www.educationnews.org/ednews_today/95888.html Feds’ invasive student tracking database 
http://www.yourhoustonnews.com/courier/opinion/feds-invasive-student-tracking-database/article_0a78211d-21e6-5110-b538-a9e6bdfd5606.html?mode=story The National Education Data Model, available online at http://nces.sifinfo.org/datamodel/eiebrowser/techview.aspx?instance=studentElementary Secondary, lists hundreds of data points considered indispensable to the nationalized student tracking racket. These include: 
•“Bus Stop Arrival Time” and “Bus Stop Description.” 
•“Dwelling arrangement.” 
•“Diseases, Illnesses and Other Health Conditions.” 
•“Religious Affiliation.” 
•“Telephone Number Type” and “Telephone Status.” http://www.missourieducationwatchdog.com

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »