The Oregon Department of Education seeks to delay their selection of new math textbooks by two years, successfully putting books found to be aligned with the state's newly adopted Common Core standards in students' hands by the fall of 2017. The delay would mean students and educators won't have accurate material for more than two years after students must begin taking the newer and harder tests covering the Common Core standards for mathematics.
Betsy Hammond writes in The Oregonian that in 2010, Oregon voted to replace its state developed math, reading and writing standards with the more rigorous Common Core standards, which have since then been adopted by 45 states.
In the Spring of 2015, students will take new tests that will replace the once easier Oregon Tests of Knowledge and Skills. The new tests which will be written by a multi-state alliance to cover the Common Core skills and standards will be called Smarter Balanced.
To prepare for the new harder testing, the state's Board of Education screened and released several potential textbooks for being aligned with the newly adopted standards. In 2013, the Board released a list to all school districts of the textbooks that met the criteria, allowing them to make a selection for the ones they wish to purchase for this upcoming fall.
It was scheduled for the Board to also review and create a list of math textbooks in the same manner this year but that will be delayed, as reported by education officials.
The proposed two-year delay has not been widely shared with education insiders nor offered for public debate, James Genereaux, a textbook sales executive based in Tigard said. He appealed to board members Tuesday to delay a decision to hear from superintendents, curriculum directors, advocates for minority students and proponents of technology- and engineering-related education, among others.
Critics of the potential delay such as Genereaux argue that it will be a disservice to the tens of thousands of Oregon students who will be taught from outdated teaching materials that won't prepare them for the new demands.
In response; the main reason to delay, said math education specialist Mark Freed, is to give the state time to modernize its textbook-review process to include free teaching materials developed by parties other than textbook publishers.
State law currently limits the state to reviewing materials whose backers pay $50 for every book or other item they want reviewed, he noted. Creators of free materials or small-time publishers are often unable or unwilling to pay, he said.
Also by withholding reviewing math textbooks, it will allow the state to continue its traditional cycle of 7 years for releasing an approved list to districts for buying new books, although it is argued that the release of the new list will put elementary and middle schools behind a year, making it 8 years since the last one's release.
Although districts are allowed to buy new math books on their own before 2017, and the state has said it would offer support to those who try, many small and medium districts lack the time and people to vet a huge array of textbooks on their own, Genereaux said.