At Seneca, we have always felt that helping students gain a depth of knowledge is more beneficial than skimming the surface in an attempt to ‘cover’ content. Our math curriculum, Everyday Math, provides students with relevant activities to fully understand and apply concepts in a variety of contexts. It is also a “spiraling” curriculum which means math topics are re-visited throughout the year and across the grades in order to reinforce and deepen understanding. While we facilitate “acceleration,” and move students forward in grade levels when it is truly warranted, we only do this when efforts toward differentiation and providing extension within the current grade level are exhausted.
The International Baccalaureate program, which is based on researched best practices in education, also promotes in-depth understanding as opposed to only surface knowledge. That is why we have fewer units of study throughout the year and spend more time examining connections between concepts. Interestingly, the Post article also stated that “Montgomery County is overhauling its elementary school curriculum to better tie together reading, math, science and other subjects.” That is exactly what Seneca Academy has been doing for years, and what we have re-affirmed with the implementation of the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program!
I am delighted by these reports from MCPS. It demonstrates to me that county education officials are paying attention to research (both internally and externally) in “best practices” in education. For me, best practices are not merely those that seem like a good idea, or make the most adults happy. Best practices are those that have measurable, positive outcomes for students. Slowing down math instruction, allowing students to explore, analyze and apply math concepts in meaningful and relevant ways, and ensuring a complete understanding of concepts before advancement has been shown to have lasting effects on students’ long-term achievement in math. Overall, the article’s accolades for MCPS’s revised focus reminded me of all the reasons I am proud of the direction in which Seneca has been moving for years
Learn more about Seneca Academy at www.SenecaAcademy.org