CLEARFIELD – The Clearfield Area School District Board of Directors began moving forward to help students who are struggling with the newly implemented Chicago Mathematics curriculum at Monday night’s re-organizational meeting.
The board created two high school after-school mathematics tutoring positions. The tutors will assist students for one hour, starting at 3:15 p.m. Monday through Thursday on an as-needed basis.
During periods of high demand, the second tutor will be scheduled during the said timeframe. Tutors must be certified in grades seven through twelve mathematics and have a background in the Chicago Mathematics curriculum.
In addition, one after-school mathematics tutor has been requested at the Clearfield Middle School. Tutors must be certified in either middle school mathematics or in grades seven through twelve with Chicago Mathematics experience.
The mathematics tutors will be scheduled from a pool of eligible applicants and paid $20 per hour as per the CEA agreement, according to board paperwork provided at the meeting.
However, board member Mary Anne Jackson said she wasn’t trying to criticize Superintendent Dr. Thomas B. Otto but expressed the district’s actions still weren’t enough.
She pointed out that for some students, it’s their third different mathematics curriculum, and they’re not having any success. She pushed for mathematics tutors to be placed in the classrooms to assist student groups alongside the teacher.
Jackson said students who are seeking help during ninth period aren’t getting it. She said the strugglers are there asking for help; however, there aren’t enough tutors to assist everyone.
“We need to do more and throw all our resources into this. We did eliminate a mathematics teacher last year,” she said. Assistant Principal Tim Janocko said he’s been addressing all those concerns, as previously voiced by Jackson.
According to him, the district has arranged for three of its mathematics teachers to visit Bald Eagle Area, which has also implemented the Chicago Mathematics curriculum. He said they’ve considered possibilities of adding an assistant in isolated classrooms or periods, where there are a high number of struggling students.
“We’re hearing these concerns and are working on every one of them,” Janocko said. Jackson said she’d spoken with her contact at Bald Eagle Area, who explained they only started Chicago Mathematics with their students who had Everyday Mathematics.
Further, she was advised Bald Eagle Area had implemented Chicago Mathematics one year at a time. However, Janocko said they utilized the Power Teaching approach, while they couldn’t afford to gradually implement the new curriculum.
“We had to do something now,” he said. At that point, board member Phil Carr asked if the board should consider adding a mathematics teacher so that it’d reduce the class size, making instruction more individualized.
Janocko said he didn’t believe class sizes were contributing to the students’ woes in mathematics. He said they need more team teaching in classes, where they have a lot of students struggling with the new curriculum.
Otto said the district has been looking at bringing back a retired mathematics teacher who is familiar with Chicago Mathematics and who will assist struggling students. He said he’s been working on a memorandum of agreement, and it would be prepared for the board’s Dec. 19 combined committee and board meeting.
Bruce Nicolls, director of curriculum/instruction, said the high school’s biggest problem area lies in Algebra II. Janocko said the three teachers who would be visiting Bald Eagle Area for professional development all taught Algebra II.
Otto said the district would continue to search out assessment tools and more professional development opportunities for its mathematics faculty. Janocko said he and Nicolls would be visiting classrooms this Thursday and doing some motivational speaking to help boost the students’ morale.
“We have a good handle on who needs the extra tutoring, and we think they’ll show up,” Janocko said. Nicolls added that they need in- and after-school tutoring opportunities because students might not always be able to attend those offered after school hours.