Parents: Math curriculum not working

Kevin Dye For The Madison Press

December 13, 2013

Should math be taught to elementary students every day?

Norwood Elementary parent Edie Piazza spoke to the Jefferson Local school board on Monday, Dec. 9, about her concerns with the new two-hour block sessions that have been adopted at Norwood Elementary School this year.

Piazza presented a list to the board of other parents who share her concern that the math skills of advanced children are suffering under the new system, which offers two hour blocks of math instead of math instruction every day. Piazza said the list could have been longer, but some parents feared reprisals against their children if they spoke out.

“There are a lot of us that want to bring this to your attention,” Piazza said. “They are getting less math in two hour blocks. That is not how we want our children to be taught. They need math every day.”

Piazza said that students are spending part of the first hour reviewing since they don’t meet every day and that they are getting less learning with the new format. Her child was an accelerated student last year working on fourth grade math as a third grader, but now her child is in fourth grade working on the same level math. She said she has had many conversations with first year principal, Sue Barte, about the matter and was told the two hour block program needs much more time to be evaluated.

“How long are we continuing down this path before we assess how this is working?” Piazza asked. “The teachers who are implementing this are not qualified to do this and the students math skills are suffering. She (her daughter) is suffering in this class.”

Board president Dave Harper thanked Piazza for bringing the matter before the board.

“We understand and appreciate you making this presentation,” Harper said. “This is something that the board needs to re-evaluate. We would like more parents to come to us without fear of retaliation to discuss this with us.”

Also, on Monday night, the board said goodbye to outgoing board member Wade Schneider, who leaves after eight years of service to Jefferson Local Schools. Superintendent William Mullett presented a plaque to Schneider and all the board members thanked him for a job well done.

“We appreciate the hours and years you put in as a board member,” board president Dave Harper said. “Good luck and enjoy your time off.”

The board also recognized several of the district’s student/athletes as the middle school eighth grade girls volleyball team and the high school girls volleyball teams were congratulated for winning the Mid-State League Ohio Division Championship for both levels of competition. The girls were individually introduced and congratulated by each board member.

The board was then presented with an update by high school chemistry teacher, Brian Pickler, on his efforts to bring an accredited AP (advanced placement) level chemistry class to the high school.

“This is a very challenging course and will test the limits of your skills,” Pickler said. “This course could save students time and money and looks great on transcripts.”

Pickler attended a four-day conference at the Montessori School in Cincinnati this summer as preparation for the AP course. The class utilizes a college-level chemistry textbook and the class syllabus was submitted to the college board for approval to become an approved AP chemistry course. Twenty-five percent of the course work is investigative laboratory work and six of the 16 labs are conducted in a guided inquiry format.

“I feel as an educator we need to challenge students,” Pickler said.

High school principal Dave Metz reported:

• 47 students attended the ACT boot camp at London High School

• the Cheerleader/Football Awards Banquet will be held on Monday, Dec. 16 at the high school

• the West Jefferson High School band will perform on Monday, Jan. 13 at the Columbus Bluejackets hockey game.

Middle school principal Debbie Omen announced the middle school choir and band concert will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 18. Also, the spelling bee team is hard at work preparing for the Madison County Spelling Bee on Jan. 9 at Tolles Career & Technical Center.

Norwood Elementary principal Sue Barte said Breakfast with Santa has been rescheduled for Saturday, Dec. 14.