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Catholic schools in Sioux Falls are no longer using the Common Core.

Now, students in the largest private-school system have not been taking the same tests as their public school peers.

Catholic Schools Blend Approaches to Math by Patrick Anderson, discusses the Dakota STEP assessments. The move is part of what Director of Instruction Joan Mahoney calls an “interesting journey” in curriculum.

In three years, Catholic school classrooms switched among three different approaches to math learning.

Parents in Sioux Falls have noticed a completely different approach to basic math instruction. For instance:

  • Students do not learn to stack two numbers and multiply down until fifth grade—previously a third-grade lesson.
  • Instead, teachers focus on alternative methods. Such as asking a student to arrange tiles into a larger square.
Both the traditional program as well as the new common core, or “constructivist” method have benefits and flaws. It is up to educators if a blended system is the key to their student’s success.

The new program, Everyday Math did not sit well with some parents.

The changes involved:

  • Fewer problems per assignment.
  • Cumbersome problem-solving techniques with standard algorithms.

Key Takeaways:

1
Catholic schools in Sioux Falls will not use the same math curriculum as their public school counterparts.
2
Typical common core methods were tried in past years. However, they caused a high level of stress among students and parents.
3
A rift exists between traditional math and “constructivist” math.

Catholic schools are starting to incorporate more technology into their curriculum.

Grant funding has helped make technology in the classroom possible.

Teachers have access to back-end systems of the software their students are using. They are able to see how the systems are being used by their students. By doing this, teachers can regroup their students based on their learning levels.

The benefits: 

  • Teachers can see what students are good at in school.
  • They will know what their students may need help with regarding learning.

The Sioux Falls Catholic school system is still learning what works best for their students. Both the traditional program as well as the new common core, or “constructivist” method have benefits and flaws. It is up to educators if a blended system is the key to their student’s success.

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