Region E2 Report - Winter 2010/2011


Eastern 2 Regional News
Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania Focus
Submitted by Diana Kendrick and Jeanne Vissa
Contribution from Jamila Riser, Diana Roscoe, Eric Milou, and Isabel Resende
Winter 2010/2011

Delaware News

Part of the state of Delaware's success in being a Race to the Top winner was its existing momentum in re-aligning state math expectations with a more problem-solving orientation.

Both the Delaware Department of Education and the statewide Mathematics Coalition have focused professional development on mathematical modeling in high school courses, especially as represented in the Core Plus and IMP integrated sequences. This positions the state well for integration of the Common Core Standards Mathematics Practice Standards at the high school level. In reviewing the Common Core curriculum standards, Delaware realizes that it has already embraced some topics considered optional.

The roll-out of Delaware's K-8 standards has already emphasized how focal content at one grade level draws upon knowledge developed in a previous grade, and anticipates knowledge needed in an upcoming grade. Delaware educational leaders think this will be helpful to the eventual tweaking of state mastery expectations that is likely to occur due to Common Core emphases, which expect earlier mastery of some skills than has been typical in the US. Helpful to Delaware initiatives have been ongoing efforts for teams to work on trajectories of how key concepts and skills develop across grades.

Delaware continues to emphasize professional development, both through state sessions offered directly to classroom teachers, and developing turnkey trainers who are responsible for four district-level in-service workshops annually in their own districts. State education officials also work closely with district curriculum directors. In the coming year, Delaware expects to intensify its outreach to school administrators, as well as offering sessions for middle grades educators showing how activities emphasizing mathematical inquiry are essential to students' mastery of the Mathematics Practice Standards in later years.

Contributions to this article were made through interviews with Jamila Riser and Diana Roscoe of Delaware's DOE.

New Jersey News

New Jersey K-12 educators held their annual convention in Atlantic City, November 4-5, 2010. NCSM member Eric Milou partnered with Janet Caldwell and Robert Riehs in making a presentation about curriculum changes in mathematics associated with the recent adoption by the state of the Common Core State Standards. In addition to speaking to the Standards for Mathematical Practice, they compared the Common Core expectation of instruction and mastery of conceptual domains, clusters, and standards to both the NCTM Focal Points and current NJ Math Standards. They also prompted the audience to consider the traditionally sequenced and integrated curriculums, as well as the different kinds of mathematics experiences beyond Algebra 2 that students should have in grades 11-12.

In their analysis, Milou, Caldwell and Riehs showed that the largest changes in content to be prospectively in grades 6-8. The NJ Office of Education has already accommodated this analysis by delaying the implementation of a changed 6-8 state assessment to the last years of the ramp-up as shown below:

  • 2011-2012: Grades K-2 (no formal assessment, but draft KG curriculum currently available for comment)
  • 2012-2013: Grades 3-5 and grades 9-12
  • 2013-2014: Grades 6-8

New Jersey currently participates in conversations with both major designers of new assessment systems associated with Race to the Top. By 2014, the state will need to make a decision regarding which assessment system it commits to using.

The New Jersey Math and Science Education Coalition leaders are eager to collaborate with State officials on the design of funded professional development initiatives that would help teachers become knowledgeable about the changed expectations and expected rigor of assessments. However, in the wake of New Jersey's failed Race to the Top application, there is a vacuum of state leadership while the state has undertaken the search for two positions, those of Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of Education.

Thanks to Eric Milou of Rowan University for helping with this report.

Pennsylvania News

Not being a Race to the Top participating state, Pennsylvania has neither the funding nor the pressure to make rapid changes and it wants to be thoughtful in how it integrates national work into its own announced commitments.

Even as the Common Core State Standards were being drafted, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) consulted them as it continued its own work on curriculum and assessment initiatives. Therefore, the Keystone Assessments being generated for individual high school courses, such as the almost-finalized Algebra I exam, and those exams anticipated for Geometry and Algebra II, are considered well aligned to the curriculum described in the Common Core State Standards.

In the case of grades K-8, PDE intends to generate "crosswalk" documents by February 2011 that are meant to help schools transition to full use of the Common Core State Standards by July, 2013. Part of this PDE work will be to emphasize mastery in all four operations with whole numbers, fractions, and decimals in grades K-5. Another portion of the work will be to look at how PA treats domains (including probability, statistics, and geometry) where mastery of topics may be expected in grades different from current PA Standards. However, while this effort is meant to inform local curriculum implementation before 2013, there are no plans to change the PSSA test items in grades 3-8 before that time.

PDE recognizes the importance of the 8 Mathematical Practice Standards within the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics as articulating the behaviors of truly mathematically competent students. PDE feels that achieving these standards will require new understandings of mathematics education objectives, and that this will likely affect all grades, K-12.

PDE is keeping a watchful eye on the work of the two assessment consortiums, and has not taken a position on either traditional or integrated high school sequences.

Isabel Resende of the Nazareth School District was very helpful in constructing this information.

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