Free Lance-Star reporter Amy Umble covers Stafford County schools and other education issues

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Textbook review in Stafford

The Stafford County school system issued the following news release today:

Stafford County Schools is reviewing textbooks under consideration for adoption in the following categories:  Mathematics for grades K-12; Music Theory and Choir for grades 9-12; and Family and Consumer Sciences/Technology Education, for grades 6-12.  Per School Board Policy, these textbooks are available for review by parents, administrators and teachers in each school building and in a central location(s).

All teachers and interested parents are encouraged to review the textbooks under consideration for adoption and to complete an evaluation rubric. Locations to review these materials are listed below. Rubrics will be available at each public review location. Completed rubrics will be forwarded on to the appropriate textbook committee.

The following central review locations are accessible to the public as are the individual schools:

Mathematics (K-12)                      

England Run Library 

Stafford Middle School Room 210 & Math Lab

Music Theory & Choir (9-12)                  

England Run Library

Alvin York Bandy Administrative Complex,    PDC Building, Room 13

Family & Consumer Sciences,   Technology Education (6-12)              

England Run Library

Alvin York Bandy Administrative Complex,   PDC Building, Room 13

Point of Contact for More Information on the Textbook Adoptions:

Karen Duffy, Supervisor of Elective Programs

Phone:  540-658-6696         


For a schedule of textbook committee meetings, click here.


  • Dana

    Math Textbook Review – There is a concern & some irregularities. The state has (9) books to review, which are on display up at George Mason University. Stafford only has (6) of the (9). The three we don’t have are all Traditional Math. The six we do have are all “Reform Math”. Why is that? Unless we can get the Traditional books to review, all we have to choose from is “Reform Math, Reform Math or Reform Math”.

    It is surprising that Central Office only obtained “Reform Math” books- since the School Board on many occasions over the last five years have said they want to look at other alternatives. Additionally, the state has not approved the book list yet. They do that after they determine the books meet all the VA SOL requirements. The states final approval will not be until May 2011. Stafford should not be picking a book until the state approves them. Neighboring counties take up to a year to review new books. We have a month? Something is not right. More information to follow soon about the “irregularities”.

  • Kay

    Actually what Dana is reporting is incorrect. It was clearly stated at the meeting that Stafford requested that all of the publishers of those nine textbooks (aside from Carolina Biological, which was not chosen because it is a kit rather than a textbook) send us their materials for review. Some companies publish more than one textbook and the company chooses which of their published texts that they want to send for review. It was not up to Stafford at all.

  • Dana

    Kay was not aware of all the details. Dana (myself) contacted the publishers. One of them told me Stafford has been designated a Reform Math District for K-5 and that’s why only those types of books were sent. The state said they certainly didn’t do it. The same publisher sent Tradtional Math books to the middle schools in Stafford, just not K-5. Another publisher told me the decision to send Reform Math books rather than Traditional Math books was based on many conversations between the publisher and two members of Stafford Central Office staff. One publisher was aware the School Board wanted to look at other options, one was not. Bottom line is choice has been taken away.

    Before we can determine which program is best – BOTH need to be reviewed. How can one say one is better than the other, until they have looked at both? We have been robbed of choice.

  • Kay

    The 6 textbooks that were up for our adoption are not all reform texts. Two of them are. We had a choice, and we made it loud and clear when asked if we wanted to bring in these two other texts for review. The overwhelming answer was no.

  • Bea

    I spent at least 4 hours today examining the top three preferred elementary Math textbooks. If you look only at how multi-digit multiplication is taught you will see that one book is clearly traditional and procedural in its approach. One is somewhat in the middle between procedurally driven and deeper standards-based instruction. The third is what I consider to be standards-based because it allows for students to make sense of the math as it reinforces the concepts behind the procedure. The math hasn’t changed, but how we approach it needs to change. Dana, we do have a choice, and in the end I hope Stafford County will do what is right for our students, not going back to 1950′s era way of teaching.

  • Dana

    To Bea & Kay, I imagine it would be hard to speak freely when you are in front of your bosses 4-5 levels up, and they are clearly directing you. That said, please remember that all Stafford’s Middle & High Schools use Traditional Math. If you really believe what you say – why don’t you speak up and tell them you think they are all doing it wrong and working in the “1950′s era”? Why are you silent about this – if this is what you truly feel? Do you think those teachers are doing their students (and your former students) a disservice? Your collegues are all wrong?

    How can you say one book is clearly better than another without at least looking at both of them first? I have looked at all of them. You flatly refuse. Perhaps it is you with the agenda?

    How in the world did you ever make it through college without Standards Based math? Why it’s a wonder we have any college grads at all since so many are taught Traditional Math, including here in Stafford. And don’t forget one of our staff members at our 2nd mtg insinuated without standards based math, kids wouldn’t be able to take Calc. I remind you, my college freshman was educated here in Stafford under Traditional Elementary Math. She skipped 5th grade and took Calc BC as a 15 year old. Wow, that traditional math sure is bad for you, right?

  • Kay

    I am not silent. I do speak what I feel. I do however understand that as students move into higher math, it does become more procedural. I know that what I do in elementary develops the understanding that students need in order to be successful with those procedures. I know this based on the research I studied during my recent graduate courses in the teaching of Mathematics.

    It is fortunate for your daughter that she is so bright. Do know that she is the exception, not the rule.

    Finally, I also want people to realize that teachers use textbooks as a resource, not their curriculum. Changing our textbook will not change the way I am teaching math, just one of the resources I am using to do so.

  • Glenn

    Dana sure takes a dark view.

    The School Board has its prccedures; they, through their educators, have adopted a math curriculm, and the books will supporlt that….do go for a book that might not meet the lessons is not only ill-advised it puts the horse after the cart . . . backwards, at any rate.

    I don’t see a committee that is afraid but I see one that is deciding something Dana doesnt agree with….loudly.

    Dana, it’s almost like you want to take your toys and go home.

  • Dana

    I wish my fellow committee members (above) would use their real names. There are no “Kay’s, Bea’s or Glenn”s on the committee roster. Records are kept of all those who attend.

  • Bob Smith

    The reason people are hesitatnt to give their real name is that you are a personal firend and have overwhelming influence on at least one school board member. After the misrepresentations you gave last night resulting in the process being totally changed because of your single, personal view despite the desires of the committee… vote roughly 32-3. They rightly fear for their child’s school being impacted or their jobs being affected.