MCPS Implements New Math Curriculum

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Montana public school teachers and administrators are aligning their curricula with the recently adopted Montana Common Core Standards of education.

In Missoula, members of the district have already revamped the English language arts curriculum.

Now, they're working to pass the new math curriculum for the next academic year.

A committee of teachers and administrators presented the new mathematics curriculum to the teaching and learning board on Monday at the school administration building.

Now, they're looking to have it approved at the May 14 school board meeting.

Curriculum Coordinator Alanna Vaneps said the Montana Office of Public Instruction adopted the national Common Core State Standards in November 2011.

The standards, written by the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers, provide a clear understanding of what students are expected to learn in the classroom before graduation.

Vaneps said, "So, whether students are getting their education from one state or another, that it's consistent."

Vaneps said the biggest change in the math curriculum is the "practice skills" element, which connects math skills learned in the classroom to real-life situations.

She said teachers will start teaching this new way of math to students at the earliest level.

"How does this work outside the classroom, at home, on the playground?" Vaneps said. "But as they get later on into middle school and high school, that application is what does that look like out in the career field?"

Vaneps said teachers will also emphasize how students can gain a deeper understanding of math by communicating learned skills conceptually.

"Those real-life application skills are really where we want students to be able to transfer their learning," Vaneps said.

Vaneps said Missoula County schools are currently implementing the English Language Arts curriculum in classrooms, which was passed last year.

She said the district will also incorporate new social studies and science curricula over the next two years.

"Students are absolutely seeing a shift as we move forward with this, but it's a process. It's a big shift in instruction for us and engagement and motivation and learning for students," Vaneps said.

Montana educators said the new standards show what students should be able to accomplish at every grade level. They said the standards help students be college and career-ready after high school graduation.

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