Superintendent explains whys of new math curriculum

Robert Smith

BARNSDALL — With nine-week report cards about to go out, and fall break looming, School Superintendent Jeff Lay engaged in a community relations effort last week regarding the new mathematics curriculum being implemented in the local schools.

Lay explained to a Barnsdall Chamber of Commerce luncheon crowd that the school system has introduced new mathematics teaching materials and approaches this school year in an effort to bring its curriculum and expectations in line with state standards.

“We don’t do things just to make people miserable, I promise you,” Lay said, commenting that math instruction in Barnsdall last school year was geared toward 1990 standards, while students were being evaluated on standardized tests according to 2016 standards.

It had been more than a decade since Barnsdall Public Schools had purchased new math curriculum materials.

The trend in mathematics instruction is toward teaching students to explain mathematical procedures rather than simply memorizing principles and learning to calculate, Lay told the Chamber group. He provided them with a handout that said Barnsdall Public Schools in spring 2019 reviewed three math curricula and chose something called Eureka Math as the district’s new curriculum. Eureka Math received high ratings from mathematics educators who reviewed it for a non-profit organization called EdReports, according to the handout Lay distributed.

Community members can visit to view detailed reports on Eureka Math, and parents can visit the Parent Resources page at the school district’s website,, for more information.

Lay acknowledged in a conversation after his presentation to the Chamber that there is anxiety in the community about the math curriculum change.

“They are seeing more challenging work given to their students than in the past,” he said. Lay clarified that the challenges Barnsdall is facing are not unique. “The entire state is not performing well in mathematics.”

Barnsdall Public Schools received low marks on its state report card in February, including an “F” for grades 7-8, and the district is taking measures to respond affirmatively. New math curriculum is an important part of that effort.

“We have made a lot of adjustments,” Lay said.