Textbooks under consideration for secondary math classes will be made available for public review and feedback before a new curriculum is adopted in the spring, Superintendent of Schools Dr. David Title said at Tuesday's school board meeting.
The books include the College Preparatory Math (CPM) Core Connections text currently being piloted in the district's algebra classes. Parents have come before the board in the past few months and complained about the use of the book -- which was not approved by the Board of Education -- and the implementation of CPM's instructional method.
Parents have voiced concern that the administration was already committed to the adoption of this textbook and curriculum for the secondary math classes, which include grades six through 10. They have objected to the method of students learning through group work instead of teacher instruction and to the fact that students cannot take the CPM book home for assignments.
But according to Title, "this is not a done deal. We are committed to evaluating all available curriculums."
In response to the concern surrounding curriculum, Title said that the district give the public "unprecedented access to the textbooks under consideration."
The public will be notified of when they can come to the Central Office to review the books and offer feedback to the administration before the curriculum is presented in April and the board votes on it in May.
"Our goal is to improve student performance in math -- there is not other agenda," Title said. "We can't continue to do everything we've always done and expect kids to handle the challenge of rigorous assessments."
In addition to providing feedback, parents will be part of the committee to review the curriculum. Letters have already gone out to various PTAs asking for nominations to the committee.
Board member John Convertito asked that the board make sure that those parents who have spoken out about CPM aren't banned from participating in the review committee.
Resident Kelly Crisp agreed.
"Those parents who have taken an active interest in the curriculum not be excluded or penalized for that interest," she said.
Jennifer Maxon Kennelly and fellow board member Perry Liu noted that the parents who brought their concerns to the attention of the board "deserve praise."
"We owe parents thanks for bringing this to the board's attention," Liu said. "If they hadn't, no matter what you think about the math program, the community wouldn't have known about it."
He added that should the board decide that CPM isn't the right program for Fairfield, the members and administration must consider how much of the school year has been lost to the curriculum.
Jessica Gerber, the board's secretary, agreed.
"We still have half of this school year left. I hope students have whatever support is needed so that this isn't a lost year for them, and they can transition smoothly into the next year of their math careers."
A group of parents known as the Fairfield Math Advocates have called for the board to suspend the use of the textbook, a motion that was put forward by Kennelly at the Dec. 11 meeting and later withdrawn due to lack of notice to the public.