MANCHESTER — Students in six city elementary schools will start the school year with something they haven’t had in more than a decade — a consistent, district-wide program for mathematics.
And by this time next year, the Ready Math program will be taught in all K-8 classrooms, according to Manchester School Superintendent John Goldhardt.
The Manchester school board adopted the Ready Math program at its August meeting.
“I feel strongly that we need a consistent and viable curriculum for students and teachers,” Goldhardt said.
He said the selection of Ready Math — which was endorsed by a team of teachers and district officials, the school board Curriculum and Instruction Commission and the full school board — was the first major decision of Goldhardt’s tenure, which began on July 1.
For the last 11 years, the district has lacked a consistent academic program for mathematics, said Sherri Nichols, the executive director of the Manchester schools innovation zone. The district also lacks consistent instructional programs in language arts and science.
Teachers said they had previously used leftover materials, online resources and pilot materials to cobble together a math program.
Manchester’s mathematics test scores have been abysmal.
For the 2016-17 school year — the latest data available online — only 22 percent of the city’s fifth-graders scored proficient or better in the statewide assessment test for math.
The state average for fifth-grade math proficiency was 47 percent, and not one of Manchester’s 14 elementary schools reached that in 2016-17.
That should change with the new math program, Goldhardt said.
“I predict a very positive impact on (test) scores. You’ll have a consistent, viable curriculum and not a hodge-podge curriculum.”
Goldhardt said he plans to implement a schedule for review and adoption of district curricula.
He said the principals and teachers at six elementary schools — Gossler Park, Weston, Highland-Goffe’s Falls, Hallsville and Webster — will start with Ready Math this year. Additionally, some grades at Parker Varney will use it.
Nichols said teachers in the six schools had exposure to online Math Ready modules and were eager to start the year with the program.
“They were ready to rock ‘n’ roll with it,” she said.
Other city schools may start Math Ready during the year, Goldhardt said, but it’s important that teachers be trained on it.
“If you just roll it out this fast, it tends to not work as well,” he said.
The district is spending $328,950 in federal grant funds for the first two years of Ready Math.
Ready Math is produced by Curriculum Associates, which also supplies city schools with the iReady student testing tools. Goldhardt said Math Ready meets the standards in both the Manchester Academic Standards and Common Core.
He said the program includes a student book that includes pages that can be detached and submitted to teachers for testing, homework or exercises. It also has an online component so parents can help their children.
Curriculum Associates plans to deliver the materials to the city on Sept. 17, Nichols said.