District 91, 93 adopt curriculum called ‘Math in Focus’

Local elementary school students will use a new math curriculum starting in the fall.

Bonneville Joint School District 93 and Idaho Falls School District 91 both will introduce “Math in Focus,” a new kindergarten- through sixth-grade math curriculum. Each district will offer the curriculum at the start of the new school year.

School boards in each district school board voted to adopt the program last week, District 91 on Tuesday and District 93 on Wednesday.

Math in Focus uses a teaching approach followed in Singapore, District 91 elementary curriculum coordinator Todd Brown said. It emphasizes problem-solving and hands-on learning, Brown said, and better aligns with Idaho Core Standards. Singapore students consistently rank high in international math testing.

The program is being used in other districts, including South Lemhi School District 292 and Holy Rosary Catholic School in Idaho Falls, Brown said.

Sugar-Salem School District 322 and West Jefferson School District 253, also have expressed interest in the program.

“With Common Core, the idea is, ‘Let’s understand the concepts behind something,’” Brown said. “Math in Focus probably does the best job of any math program we’ve seen as far as making that an emphasis.”

District 93 bought the program last year for Summit Hills Elementary School, which opened this past fall. This year, it’s pushing the program districtwide.

“Our previous curriculum didn’t have as many activities for problem-solving and teaching a deeper understanding of concepts,” said Michaelena Hix, District 93 director of curriculum and instruction. “We were supplementing it a lot and trying to make it work. We really feel this program … is better.”

District 91 evaluated seven different math programs, Brown said, and settled on Math in Focus because it provided the best instruction and gave students a deeper understanding of concepts.

“We really liked the Singapore approach — kids are using hands-on materials, acting out math representations and drawing out pictures to represent a problem,” Brown said. “It does a really good job to help kids develop a deeper understanding of math.”

Reporter Kirsten Johnson can be reached at 542-6757.