Math in Focus®
The WSSD is committed to delivering a rigorous math curriculum which meets the requirements of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics as well as the Pennsylvania Academic Standards. Grades K-8 use the Math in Focus program. Math in Focus builds student understanding of math concepts through experience and problem solving. The program is a focused, coherent curriculum that unfolds math concepts in a deliberate order so that students have the opportunity to develop ownership of each math concept in depth before studying more sophisticated math concepts. Each math concept is developed through a philosophy of concrete experience leading to visual understanding and then abstraction. An equal emphasis is placed on conceptual understanding and fluency with skills. Through the use of concrete and pictorial representations, students are provided the tools needed to work through multi-step and non-routine problems.
Beginning in grade three, the district uses a flexible grouping model for math. Flexible grouping is not tracking, but rather allows for movement between groups according to student needs and development. This grouping allows for on-going evaluation of students' mathematical, analytical, and reasoning skills to offer appropriate levels of both challenge and support. The grouping placements are based on the current needs of students within the grade level cohort; grouping decisions focus on providing the opportunity for learners to grow to their full potential within an optimal learning environment that instills and preserves a love of mathematics. Math is taught at the same time across the grade level, and students may change teachers for math. All groups receive instruction in the grade level Math in Focus curriculum. Even with leveled groups, there are still opportunities for differentiated support and enrichment to address the range of student skills within the group. Teachers have ongoing communication about lessons, unit pacing, and critical skills determined through the PA Core Standards. Teachers use curriculum-based measures and PSSA scores (if applicable) to make placement decisions. The placements in 5th grade do not automatically lead to middle school placements. Instead, a placement test, as well as student scores across the three elementary schools help the middle school make placement decisions to create optimal learning environments for students as they transition to 6th grade. Even once students are in middle school, there are bridge opportunities to allow students to change levels as they mature. Our district is committed to providing opportunities for students to experience appropriate levels of challenge while ensuring development of strong foundation skills and a love of math.