January 2020 Update

Math Review Moves to Course Resources, Instructional Minutes

The next phase of the math program review is focusing on new curriculum resources and studying how to increase math instructional minutes at the junior high.

Last month, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kris Raitzer outlined how the math pathways will begin one grade earlier, in 5th grade, and offer three pathways: grade level, accelerated and double accelerated. This pathway plan begins with 5th-graders next year.  At the Jan. 28 meeting, Dr. Raitzer detailed the ongoing work of the math committee.  The committee, which includes educators from all grades and a representative from the high school, is currently evaluating curriculum resource materials. The teachers have been trained on how to analyze materials objectively on factors such as coverage and balance of learning standards, mathematical practices, and overarching factors such as accessibility, equity, assessment, technology and home/school connections, Dr. Raitzer said.

The committee is also incorporating input from Glenbrook North and other township elementary districts. Once the committee has narrowed the selections, committee members will pilot  lessons and visit classrooms in districts that are using the curricula to provide a broader perspective.

Parents will be invited to provide feedback on the home-school connections aspects of the materials and have the opportunity to ask questions about the math program review, Dr. Raitzer said. New curriculum materials will be selected and recommended to the Board of Education no later than April.

Instructional Minutes Strategies

Another major project is also underway to determine how to increase math instructional minutes by adjusting the master schedule at Northbrook Junior High. This project is complex because there are many “moving parts“ to a master schedule, including the bell schedule; staffing levels by grade and course; student course schedules; and space/room availability each period of the day..

The NBJH schedule currently includes 40 minutes of math instruction daily.  A comparison to junior highs and middle schools throughout the area shows a range of 40 to 80 minutes per day, with the average being 55 minutes.  Master schedules vary in several ways.  For example, some will use longer instructional blocks on certain days and shorter periods on others.  Dr. Hewitt explained there is no perfect master schedule.  Each one has its own set of pros and cons.  

To assist with identifying the best options, administrators will consult with Elliot Merenbloom, an expert in master scheduling, in early February.

A preliminary report outlining scheduling considerations and options is expected to be presented to the Board of Education at its February 25th meeting.