Younger grade school students across the Dickinson Public School system will this year be utilizing a different math curriculum than in years past.
When the 2017-18 school year opens on Thursday, Eureka Math will be introduced to grades K-5. Eureka will replace Investigations, a program that this district has used for the last 10 years.
As the expectations of what students should know and do well have changed, DPS Director of Curriculum and Professional Development Melanie Kathrein says it was time to evolve with those changes.
"As education changes, we're always looking on how to get better," Kathrein says. "As we look at the K-through-12 progression and where students need to be when they graduate from high school, we know that the rigor in mathematics needs to increase. Rigor does not necessary mean that it has to be harder. It means that the way that you think about things has to be more complex, moving towards evaluating, analyzing and explaining instead of just repeating a procedure.
"With our old expectations, Investigations served us really well, but now the expectations are different and so we were looking for something that helped us move in that direction."
Important to the district is how Eureka Math was developed. Constructed by fellow teachers, it was key to find a program that better understands how students learn and their progression rather than a normal textbook developer.
Every eight years, each curriculum content area is up for review. The district has looked into Eureka Math for the nearly three years as a possible advancement of the curriculum.
"Our teachers on the math curriculum committee studied for several years to really look at what we want students to know and be able to do in mathematics and also, then how do we achieve that," Kathrein said. "A great deal of time was spent looking at that initially and then looking at resources to support our teachers in that process. In our review, we were most excited about what Eureka Math had to offer in order to help us get kids to those goals that we had.
"But in addition to that, we visited some schools. One of the schools that used Eureka Math was Sweet Water Elementary in Devils Lake and their teachers were so excited about what their students were able to do in mathematics, we hadn't seen in any other school. It was their enthusiasm and excitement that was contagious to us and confirmed what we were seeing in the resource itself."
Eureka Math was implemented as a "pilot" program (or test program) in 24 DPS classrooms last year with the help and training of a "math coach" from Devils Lake. Many teachers also visited schools in Hazen using the program to become better acclimated. Those pilot teachers will serve as ongoing trainers as the rest of the district becomes familiar with the programs.
"Our pilot teachers has been phenomenal in the dedication they've put into kicking this off and really studying Eureka Math during the pilot, then thinking about how do we support the rest of the teachers in this process," Kathrein said. "I'm so grateful to their work and dedication as educators."