Visit the classrooms of District 69 schools this year and you may be apt to hear an unsolicited “I love the Distributive Property” shared between 3rd grade classmates.  District 69, like many schools in the state, is embarking on a journey to help students and teachers as they align curriculum to the more rigorous Common Core Mathematics Standards adopted in 2010. Illinois PARCC assessment results from the 2014-15 school year, recently released in December of 2015, indicate that students, teachers, school districts and parents throughout Illinois will need to embrace additional strategies and challenges that come with higher expectations.  While many previous state assessments measured basic mathematics skills, the current PARCC assessments require students to explain, analyze and synthesize responses.  For example, 4th grade students will now find themselves working through complex, multi-part problems as illustrated in this Jian’s Honey question;   

Jian’s family sells honey from beehives. They collected 3,311 ounces of honey from the beehives this season. They will use the honey to completely fill 4-ounce jars or 6-ounce jars. Jian’s family will sell 4-ounce jars for $5 each or 6-ounce jars for $8 each. Jian says if they use only 4-ounce jars, they could make $4,140 because 3,311 ÷ 4 = 827 R 3. That rounds up to 828, and 828 multiplied by $5 is $4,140.

In Part A, explain the error that Jian made when finding the amount of money his family could make if they use only 4-ounce jars. In Part B, explain how to determine the money Jian’s family could make if they use only 6-ounce jars. Include the total amount of money and the total number of 6-ounce jars in your explanation. Enter your answers and your explanation in the space provided.


As students work to master the more rigorous standards and expectations highlighted in Jian’s honey, the Classrooms First (cr1) member partner Districts 219, 69 and 67 have developed a multifaceted plan of action to address the necessary changes that need to take place to assure that college readiness is within reach of all children. The plan includes new curricular materials, extensive and ongoing teacher professional development, utilization of timely, standards aligned formative assessments, and thorough, easy to access parent resources.


The D69 STEM Leadership Team determined that either significant time and effort would be needed to revise materials currently in use or new resources needed to be adopted.  Upon reviewing materials and resources it became apparent that many texts did not fully meet the rigorous expectations of the Common Core. Eureka Math (Publisher Great Minds), at the time of review, was the only Tier 1 grades K-8 textbook resource to be fully aligned to common core standards. A comparison and overview of mathematics materials may be found at the Edreports Analysis. Following further review, Eureka Math was selected for use in the 2015-16 school year for grades K-8 (D69) and grades 6-8 (D67) with grades K-5 (D67) adopting in 2016-17.   Eureka Math provides students with opportunities to solve rigorous problem sets using varied strategies such as tape diagrams, arrays and place value charts. The K-8 alignment of content and strategies positions students in Districts 69 and 67 to master the levels of application, synthesis and evaluation found within Eureka Math problem sets and the Illinois Math Standards.  These higher level expectations are at the very core of the new standards and assessments as students will no longer be considered proficient through simple mastery of basic calculations. The use of Eureka Math provides our Classrooms First children with the best available curricular resources to develop and retain the tools necessary to excel, both now and in the future.  


Extensive professional development is essential for successful implementation of the math practices used to fill students’ toolboxes with strategies for success. With a new Eureka Math curriculum selected for use in the 2015-16 school year, teachers in Districts 69 and 67 (grades 6-8) were provided extensive professional development during the summer (2015) and throughout the first year (2015-16) of adoption. Half day grade level workshops were provided to Classrooms First teachers to embrace the standards and the new PARCC state assessment.  A Eureka Math 3 day Regional Institute hosted at Niles North provided teachers with a local opportunity to learn grade band progressions and to study modules for their specific grade level. Subsequently, most teachers also participated in summer long study groups to further explore tools, practices and assessments in preparation for the new school year. Throughout the year, institute day sessions included opportunities to analyze assessments for upcoming units and reflect upon targeted lesson videos from the Eureka Math Writing Team. Further daily supports are provided through 24/7 access to Professional Development videos for every lesson and discussions at weekly grade level team meetings. Additionally, Edison Elementary school was chosen by Eureka Math to host a lead writer, Kelly Alsup during the 2015-2016 school year. Every two weeks, groups of teachers watch exemplar lessons taught by Ms. Alsup and engage in post lesson conversations regarding the strategies and techniques used during class. A Eureka Writer from every grade level K – 8 will lead a full day workshop on upcoming modules during the spring institute on March 15th at Lincoln Junior High. During the last week of July 2016, the Eureka Math Regional Institute will once again be hosted in District 219 .  A one day session for teachers who have already implemented the program in year one and a three day Eureka Math workshop for teachers new to Eureka Math will provide continued follow up and support throughout the summer in preparation for the 2016-17 school year.


Student needs, growth and mastery of the standards must be effectively measured and monitored. Using Mastery Manager as an assessment tool, Eureka Math tasks, NWEA MAP assessment items and teacher created questions have been aligned to standards and populated within an extensive test bank for teacher use. Through the use of this new tool, currently accessible to D69 teachers (D67 will have access in 2016-2017), teachers will be able to quickly gather and analyze data through common formative and summative assessments specifically aligned to each of the Common Core Math Standards.  Teachers and specialists will be able to use real time data to determine student needs as they align with the mastery of specific concepts.  This clear alignment and immediate feedback loop will provide District 69 teachers, in collaboration with math specialists, the information they need to individualize instruction to meet the needs of every student.  


Parent partnerships are an integral part of a child’s success and growth in school.  Understandably, it can be difficult if not overwhelming to determine how to support children when they come home from school needing help, encouragement or celebration. To assist parents in this partnership, Classrooms First has designed a parent resources website aligned to support and illuminate the Math Curriculum. Parents can access parent tip sheets, worked out homework examples and the student Ebook. The website also provides family math games and vetted IPad apps aligned with Eureka Math and the Common Core Math Standards. Videos with worked out homework and problem set questions are available for parents along with homework helper worksheets that support parents as they ask higher level questions when working with their children. Math parent nights provide explanations and overviews of these useful tools, while parent/child nights within the Kids Can Code and Kids Can Engineer Series, further support math applications through parent partnerships.


As Classrooms First members District 219, 69 and 67 move forward in year one of the new math curriculum, professional development, common formative assessments and parent partnerships, the foundation has been set for future success and mastery of the more rigorous standards set forth in the common core.  PARCC has stated that “The new assessments serve as an “educational GPS system,” assess students’ current performance, and point the way to what students need to learn by graduation so they are ready for college and/or a career.”  The goal of Classrooms First mirrors this intent. The partnership provides a venue for solid collaboration while providing both immediate and long term strategies and plans to achieve unprecedented levels of student growth and success. All students will have the opportunity to be high school, college and workplace ready!  



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