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May 25, 2009

A Real Life Story Problem

Math was never a favorite subject of mine.  I think it stems back to a difficulty with story problems throughout my elementary school years.  I attended a Math Institute this past week put on through the MN Department of Education.  I am pleased to say that we are incorporating many of the strategies in our classrooms already – always a good sign!


What was more interesting was to look at standards for mathematics at the early childhood level.  There is a slight difference in our state standards, or Early Childhood Indicators of Progress, and those put out by NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children). 


As we discussed these standards and indicators of progress, our group was split pretty evenly.  One third of the programs represented were required to follow the standards and assess students to show progress.  One third used these indicators as a guide for their curriculum and used their own assessment model.  The final third were learning about these standards for the first time, although they include most of them in the programming already. 


As our state gets closer and closer to mandates related to Early Childhood Education, it will be interesting to see how programs respond to new or more strictly enforced standards.  Our director is currently researching curriculums, programming options and student contact time.  Quality rating systems are starting to play a role in funding and the choices parents have for early childhood opportunities. 


So now the story problem reads like this: 

 “Karissa is a teacher in an urban setting.  She has been told her 20 students need to show progress in all the areas of mathematics or her school will receive 3 stars instead of 5.  90% of her students start school without any knowledge of the English language and they have 6 hours of contact time a week due to budget cuts.  What would you do next?”


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