New K-12 math studies chosen for Mars students

May 23, 2019 Cranberry Local News

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ADAMS TWP — Students in the Mars School District will soon be learning from new math curricula featuring state-of-the-art digital tools designed to supplement lessons and track student performance.

The school board heard from the math curriculum team last week about their choice of the two new curricula.

The team chose Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's GO Math! curriculum for kindergarten through grade 3 and Cengage's Big Ideas Learning curriculum for grades 4 through 12. The curricula are expected to cost around $375,000, though the district doesn't expect to have final estimates until June. The lessons will begin with the school year.

Karen Eckert, director of curriculum, instruction and innovative practices, said she and the math curriculum team parsed 10 years of PSSA scores and surveyed district teachers to understand the tools they needed to best educate their students before they selected the curricula.

Eckert said they wanted to give a special focus to the kindergarten through third grade curriculum, because in these years pupils lay a foundation for future study.

“We feel K-3 are the foundational years,” she said. “It's crucial they're learning those basic skills.”

Both the GO Math! and Big Ideas curricula feature books and supplemental online assignments and other tools. This has the added benefit of helping pupils who may be sick or absent for various reasons.

The curricula allow students and pupils to track academic performance with the goal of identifying strengths and weakness and finding the best ways to address them.

Members of the team, all district teachers, explained why they chose the curriculums and how they expected it to improve their students educational experiences.

Fifth grade teacher Sharyn Lipnicky said the curriculum works to equip students of all levels with tools to address the areas in which they may be struggling, while offering enrichment materials for students looking for a deeper understanding.

Fourth grade teacher Chris Patrini said giving her students the ability to access resources online will be a major improvement. She added that the focus on laying the conceptual foundation in the early years of education is important for student success in later grades.

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Caleb Harshberger

Caleb Harshberger

Caleb Harshberger is a reporter covering Adams, Forward and Middlesex Townships and Evans City, Callery and Valencia Boroughs. He started as an intern with the Butler Eagle in Jan. 2017 and was hired as a staff writer in June of that year. Harshberger earned a degree in philosophy at Grove City College in 2017 and is originally from Syracuse, N.Y.