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ASD's New Math Program Aims to Multiply Understanding

By Corey Allen-Young, Education Reporter, cyoung@ktuu.com
Published On: Mar 05 2014 07:05:31 PM AKST

ASD officials say the change to Go Math was in part due to parents not supporting the old system. 

Reporter: Corey Allen-Young / Photojournalist: Dan Carpenter (KTUU-TV)

ANCHORAGE -

Year one of the Anchorage School District's new math program in elementary schools is more than halfway done -- but how are students and parents dealing with the change?

Whether students are using traditional methods or more mental ones, the Anchorage School District's new math program Go Math lets students use whatever method they understand to get the right answer.

Campbell Elementary School parent Nicole Brumlow says Go Math was hard to understand at the beginning of the school year, when she initially tried to help her first-grade daughter Victory at home. 

"I was a little confused at first -- I didn't how they were teaching the math in the classrooms," Brumlow said.

One of ASD's math gurus in charge of teaching the teachers -- Bobbi Jo Erb, the district's executive director of curriculum & instruction -- says Go Math is designed to help students have a deeper understanding of what they are doing.

"We've learned a lot in the last 20 years about how students learn and how they do math," Erb said.

Under Go Math, students will be taught the way most parents learned in the past, but will also be shown concepts they can apply to the real world. The new approach accounts for individual differences in taking on a given task.

"The way you think of a math problem may be very different from the way I think of it," Erb said. "And if either one of us is forced to do it one specific way, we are going to lose all of that education that came before." 

Erb says the No. 1 thing the district wants is for all students to be successful in math. 

"For a long time math was thought of as just an elite subject for the cream of the crop, but we want all of our kids to be the cream of the crop," Erb said.

That's also a goal Brumlow wants for her kids -- which is why she's working to be on the same page with them.     

"I talked with the teachers; I tried to sit down with my children and learn the way they are learning," Brumlow said.

In addition to online Go Math tutorials, ASD is holding parent math nights. The next one, scheduled for Monday, Mar. 24 at 6 p.m. in the ASD Education Center boardroom at 5530 E. Northern Lights Blvd. will cover math problems that will be taught during the fourth quarter. 

Parents are welcome to call ASD's math department at 742-4856 to ask questions or request help.