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LANCASTER MULLS EXPANDING 'REAL-LIFE' MATH

Lancaster school officials are looking at expanding the sometimes hotly debated "Everyday Math" program beyond the district's elementary schools into its middle and high schools.

If the plan gets the blessing of the School Board, Lancaster could become a trailblazer locally in using the new system at the secondary level, administrators said.

"The teachers felt this particular program was an outstanding program," said Marcia Kaster, director of secondary curriculum and instruction. "We would be one of the first in Western New York to have a K-through-12 coordinated program."

A number of local school districts have adopted the program at the elementary level. More than 3 million students nationwide use such a curriculum.

Developed at the University of Chicago in the 1980s, the program uses real-life situations to make math more relevant. It emphasizes concepts and hands-on learning over repetition and rote memorization.

In Lancaster, the program has been established in kindergarten through second grade. Some third- and fourth-grade teachers are using it in a pilot program that started last year. The new approach has yielded excellent results, administrators told the School Board Monday night.

In Como Park School, where all four fourth-grade teachers used Everyday Math last year, 99 percent of the pupils scored in the acceptable range on a statewide standardized test. In three of the district's other elementary schools, 79 percent to 90 percent of pupils scored in that range. At Hillview School, where two of four fourth-grade teachers used the program, 90 percent of pupils scored in that range.

Pilot programs also are under way this year in two ninth-grade math classes.

But the School Board was reluctant Monday to approve the purchase of new high school math textbooks that would enable teachers at the secondary level to implement the program. Board members put the issue on a back burner until next month, when more of their questions are answered.

"Can students still add a column of numbers?" asked trustee Edward Carlsen.

Kaster and Michelle Kavanaugh, director of elementary curriculum and instruction, assured the board that basic skills remain a cornerstone in Everyday Math.

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