2006-07-20 / Letters

Math curriculum content is critical

The recent opening created by the departure of Martha Mutz as cirriculum director of Conejo Valley Unified School District presents an excellent opportunity to review and improve district programs. The replacement for Ms. Mutz should be the applicant who will implement programs with strong academic content to improve CVUSD public education.

It is likely that some programs currently in use are limiting the performance of district students.

Proud statements indicating our district is one of the finest in the state are misleading to the public. The CA API similar schools ranking, which is based on demographics, paints a different picture of this district. The income and education level of parents in any community has a direct correlation to how well students can be expected to perform academically.

The API demographic ranking shows our students should be accomplishing much more.

Some CVUSD elementary schools are near the bottom of the API similar schools ranking. The 2005 API Base Report has Meadows Elementary ranked lowest with a 1 (10 being best), Ladera and Wildwood both rank a 2 and Lang Ranch ranks a 3.

The remaining elementary schools rank between 5 and 7 with Glenwood, Cypress, Madrona, and Maple ranking 8.

The only school to rank 9 on the API comparison was Park Oaks. Not one CVUSD elementary school was able to rank a 10 when compared with other similar schools in California.

It's time to publicly acknowledge the need for instructional improvement in our elementary schools.

One way to improve a low similar schools ranking would be to increase math scores significantly. Math is weighted at 40 percent in the API calculations. The 2005 CST reports 30 percent of CVUSD fifth-grade students scored below proficient in mathematics. The low performance of these students is tragic when you consider there is a simple remedy to improve achievement.

Unfortunately, school board trustees have yet to allow students the choice to use a state approved math program. Instead CVUSD K-6 classrooms must use Everyday Math, which was rejected twice by the state Board of Education for failing to meet California's math standards.

If any future candidates for CVUSD curriculum director indicate a proclivity to ignore the California Curriculum Review Panel and a preference to adopt Constructivist NCTM standardsbased math programs, please don't hire them.

I urge CVUSD trustees not to make the same mistake twice. Jo Anne Cobasko Co-founder, Save Our Children from Mediocre Math, Thousand Oaks

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