Curriculum 2.0 Mathematics
Background: the Common Core
As most parents are aware, over the past several years, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) has been rolling out its new Curriculum 2.0. Both the English and math components of curriculum are based on the Common Core State Standards. The Standards aim to provide a clear set of expectations as to what knowledge students should master. States and localities design their curriculum around the standards. Some useful guides to understanding the thinking behind the Common Core math standards are:
Philosophy: Fewer Topics, more Depth
MCPS Common Core Math Presentation, October 2010 provides a useful overview of how Curriculum 2.0 builds on the Common Core, particularly how the curriculum is changing.
A theme of Common Core math is that the standards must address the problem of a curriculum that is “a mile wide and an inch deep.” In keeping with Common Core themes, Curriculum 2.0 emphasizes a richer understanding of a smaller set of topics than the previous curriculum. Initially MCPS sharply curtailed accelerated math instruction, but has since adjusted its policies to create a "compacted math" option, beginning in 4th grade.
Curriculum 2.0 Math Content
Compared to the previous curriculum, Curriculum 2.0 focuses more on numbers, fractions, decimals, arithmetic, and measurement at the elementary level, with less emphasis on algebra, geometry, probability, and statistics (October 2010 presentation, slide 11)
MCPS publishes a nice set of Teacher-Developed Parent Newsletters for Math which describe the topics being taught each marking period. These newsletters include examples, more detailed explanations of the topics, and activities that students should be completing at home, as well as at school. For example, in marking period 2 of 2nd grade, “Operations and Algebraic Thinking” includes the topic:
match two-step word problems to equations and solve
(There are 23 students on the bus. 5 students get off at
the first stop. 3 more students get on at the second stop.
How many students are on the bus now?).
The corresponding activities to support learning at home are:
create compare word problems using experiences at home.
Websites to support learning:
Changes in Acceleration and Enrichment
A 2013 letter from then Gifted and Talented PTA chair Katy Reilly provides additional information:
As background, past practice in many MCPS elementary schools permitted the "skipping" of grades in math instruction, e.g., to provide to a rising third grade student instruction in Math 4, or Math 5, etc. (The same held true for other grades as well.) Acceleration decisions generally were made based upon assessment results and teacher recommendations. At times entire groups of students were accelerated en masse to form an instructional group; other times smaller groups of students moved into math classes largely made up of students in higher grades.
Under Curriculum 2.0, MCPS curtailed acceleration in elementary schools. The changes were designed to respond to concerns that some accelerated children struggled in upper level math courses in middle and high school, possibly because they had been accelerated too quickly or without adequate foundation in elementary concepts. This change generated significant concern among parents of advanced learners who previously had been accelerated into higher-grade math, particularly those with students currently in grades 4 and 5. These students have not been fully immersed in the new curriculum since onset of elementary school and therefore the placing of these students into their grade-level math class caused parents to feel that math concepts already learned were being repeated.
Since Fall 2013, MCPS has provided teachers with additional materials to support enriched instruction for advanced students and has designed a "compacted math" course beginning in 4th grade. Enriched instruction aims to provide additional depth and challenge within the topic currently being studied by the class.
For Grade 4, the compacted math course does not skip material but instead moves at a quicker pace combining the content from all of Grade 4 mathematics with the content of the first two marking periods of Grade 5. To identify candidates for this course, the school reviews existing student data. Once candidates are identified, grade 3 teachers will assess the students using a series of tasks that are completed as part of classroom instruction over the course of several months. There is no separate test administered. MCPS provides additional information about the Compacted Math course at:
PTA Points of Contact
Please feel free to contact any one of the undersigned PTA representatives with questions or comments.
- Andrea Hester (firstname.lastname@example.org), Chair, Curriculum Committee
- Ann Mayo (email@example.com), Chair, PTA Accelerated and Enriched Instruction Committee
- Sally McCarthy, PTA President (firstname.lastname@example.org)