The parent group that calls itself “Math Matters” is pushing for better differentiation in the teaching of math in the Evanston/Skokie District 65 schools.

In a memo sent last week to the district’s top administrators, the group is asking for teachers to be let loose to experiment with better ways of ensuring that all students improve their math skills at no matter what level they happen to be.

Specifically, they ask that a “differentiation guidance memo” be sent to principals and teachers that gives permission and direction for teachers to continue innovating in math differentiation, including using educational technology programs that would enable students to progress further at their own pace.

That’s a short-term strategy, the group concedes. Over the long term, however, they recommend that the district set “a big hairy audacious goal” of becoming a top district in the country in mathematics.

“Let’s be the district that people move to from all over the city and the North Shore to give their kids the best math education,” they challenge.

“If we don’t set this as a goal,” they fear, “by definition, we won’t get there.”

The group is particularly eager for the district to implement technology options that offer the opportunity for students to advance at their own pace.

While the group has met twice with Superintendent Paul Goren and his math specialist in the last few months, they are hopeful that the new web site that the district is developing will have a section on math, including links to help parents understand the Common Core State Standard.

“Many of us have been pushing for better differentiation for many years,” their memo concludes, “including parents who were involved in the 2007-09 Differentiation and Enrichment Study Committee.”

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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  1. ETHS and ‘publicity’ about Math [Science] Clubs and other

    ~~I have found that ETHS does a poor job about 'tooting their own horn' about science accomplishment by students.  Once in a while I will read about an event, a successful student, etc. but it is very rare and not representive of actual accomplishments.  They should learn something about advertizing from businesses—so far I'd given them a grade of 'C' at the maximum.

    I think it has been years since I've read about an ETHS being in an Intel competition, taking math/science at NU or other colleges, math/science scholarships students received.  One of the teachers told me several years ago about several students in the International Math Olympiad–surely something they should 'toot their horn' about. How about grads who made a name for themself in science–the only two I've read about [neither from  ETHS stories] are Amie Wilkinson and Leonard Mlodinow—I bet there are a lot more.

    Also try to find out anything about the advanced level math [science] course offered at ETHS or in connection with NU.  Look at the Web pages [if I could even call them that] of the teachers—very little is told about them such as degrees, any publication—a university or any professor would recognize it not only helps them but the schools reputation. Maybe ETHS Math/Science needs  to bring in a Kellogg Marketing person.

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