Aspire Public Schools Shares Why They Adopted Materials Early

Ronnie Ernandes, Math Academic Program Manager, Aspire Public Schools, Los Angeles Region

June 28, 2023

The Reasons Why We Led an Off-Cycle Math Materials Adoption Process

This is the second blog in a new series about early and off-cycle math instructional materials adoption in California. Check out our first blog here.

Over the past couple of years at Aspire Public Schools, we’ve been reflecting deeply on our math program, and one finding was clear: Our data was telling us that we needed to redesign our math program to meet the needs of all learners. Also, our prior curriculum’s instructional approach was direct instruction, which no longer aligned with our network’s instructional priorities and math vision:

All Aspire scholars have the right and ability to become confident, independent mathematical thinkers and problem solvers. It is our collective responsibility to provide a program of math instruction that will prepare students for college and career, and empower them with the knowledge and skills needed to use math to tackle problems that matter to them in their lives and communities.

-Aspire Public Schools Math Vision

While the 2023 California Mathematics Framework draft was just released and is up for adoption by the State Board of Education soon, we know that the subsequent list of state-adopted materials is still at least two years away, and our students need a change now. Here are a couple of the key reasons why we at Aspire Public Schools decided to adopt early:

Our data told us not to wait.

Our network team and site leaders analyzed data from multiple sources: Smarter Balanced Assessment, diagnostics, observations, teacher surveys, and student empathy interviews. The data showed that our students needed a change in math materials and instruction, which is a story that may resonate with many other districts. Following the pandemic, we’ve seen students across California and the nation struggle to reclaim their math independence. Students are not engaging in academic discourse to the degree that we experienced pre-pandemic, and challenges that already existed with math have been further exacerbated by the pandemic. Based on this data, we knew that we needed to act now and listen to the needs of our students, staff, and families. 

We wanted to align materials with our instructional priorities and math vision.

As outlined in our math vision, we want students to be taking ownership of their learning and engaging in inquiry, problem solving, and rich discourse. Our network has been studying Universal Design for Learning, culturally responsive teaching, and Integrated English Language Development, and we wanted a curriculum that supported these pedagogical priorities. However, our prior curriculum emphasized  direct instruction and did not effectively integrate these approaches.Therefore, we decided to engage in an adoption process that would allow us to select a curriculum that aligned to our vision of what we want to see in our math classrooms to better serve our students. 

After a rigorous curriculum adoption process which included  comprehensive stakeholder input, investigating and piloting materials, and prioritizing teacher voice in decision making through a consensus-making protocol, our selection was approved by our Board, and we are now moving on to planning for implementation in the 2023-24 school year. We are excited to begin implementing i-Ready Classroom Mathematics 2024, which aligns with our instructional vision, and includes  a framework that prioritizes academic discourse, problem solving, and differentiation. This approach, paired with a robust year one professional learning plan, will enable us in supporting all of our students to become independent learners.

The bottom line is that we wanted to do what was best for students.

If you and your district are also ready to pursue an early adoption process, CalCurriculum has practical  guidance and tools available for you. We attended the CalCurriculum workshop in January 2023 and followed the key adoption steps from EdReports throughout our process, and we would recommend that other districts check out the Data Discovery tool as you look to assess your own local adoption priorities.

The next blog in our series will explore how to leverage CalCurriculum tools and resources to navigate a strong early adoption process.