Central York board finally votes on elementary math curriculum

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

After months of discussion, a vote has finally been made concerning a proposed math curriculum for elementary students in Central York School District.

The school board Monday voted to approve a kindergarten-to-sixth-grade math series called "Into Math" by the publishing company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The vote was grouped into three separate action items under the education agenda, meaning board members voted for all three items at once. Members voted 8-0, with an abstention from board member Vickie Guth.

Board member Amy Milsten, who was absent from Monday night's meeting due to a field trip, provided a statement nonetheless supporting the program. 

"For a very long time, our teachers and students had craved and needed consistency and organization in math instruction," Milsten said. "This program, vetted by our excellent staff and administration, would provide so much of what has been missing in our math classroom."

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The HMH math program was introduced to the board last May and then tabled in June, mainly because board members were concerned by what they considered unanswered questions about the program.

The district's curriculum committee heard an hourlong presentation on the "Into Math" program earlier in February. The presentation was 27 slides detailing how and why district officials are recommending the program and answering many of the questions the board had last summer. 

Amy Milsten, right, and her daughter Rachel, and eighth grader at Central York Middle School, rally outside the Central York Educational Service Center Monday, Sept. 2020, to protest the school board's failure to approve a social studies curriculum dealing with diversity. The 100-person rally coincided with the board's scheduled meeting. Bill Kalina photo

The committee did not have enough time to hold a long discussion on the program before the main board meeting started. However, most of the questions members did pose were easily answered by the presenters. 

The main concerns about the program were brought up by board members Guth and Tim Strickler, who have both consistently questioned the program since June. Neither attended the full February presentation. 

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Guth's primary concern was that there isn't enough data about how successful "Into Math" is performing in other districts that have adopted it.

Because the program was only made available to purchase in 2020, and the latest state assessment data has not been released yet, Acting Assistant Superintendent Kevin Youcheff said that information is not available yet. 

"Even the people who have implemented it don't have results," Guth said. 

Guth reiterated these concerns during Monday night's board meeting.

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"I had hoped that some teachers would talk to teachers who have actually used it, to see what they have to say," Guth said. "I'm not against this program, but I think there's still a lot of questions that have not been answered." 

She criticized the process, adding that she felt it was not fully transparent. Without having enough data to back up the HMH program, Guth said she wished for more comparisons to other potential programs.

Youcheff said he hopes to have the program implemented in Central York classrooms by the start of the 2022-2023 school year.

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.