Sitka | Three math education researchers from Texas A&M University will be in Sitka in December to study the math curriculum in the Sitka School District.

Assistant Superintendent Mary Wegner says the district is performing a “math audit.” In the most recent testing, fewer students were deemed proficient in math than in other subjects.

Wegner says the district isn’t pursuing any single curriculum or trying to validate a particular way of doing things, but rather, simply learn how well current methods are working, and what might need to change.

“We are trying to see how we can help each student succeed,” she said. “We know that math is really foundational to a lot of careers. So they may not think they need it now, they may get by, they may have other skills they can bring in, but it’s always good to make sure every student has every opportunity to be successful.”

In addition to looking at how students are responding to math curriculum, the district also plans to analyze whether teachers are sticking to it – teaching the curriculum how it was designed to be taught. Wegner says teachers can have good reason to deviate.

“Some of them being students needs,” Wegner said. “Your class of students are very different, or you might not be finding that the curriculum is meeting your needs, and that’s part of what we hope we uncover in our audit.”

The district has budgeted $15,000 to bring the researchers to Sitka, lodge them, and pay their fee. School board officials said the rate was greatly reduced from the typical amount that would be spent on such work.

The district has already looked at its reading curriculum, and math was next on the list to audit. Wegner says although there have always been plans to audit its math curriculum, it’s also partially a response to requests from the community.

“Last year there was a lot of parental concern about that, and that’s why I’m saying it’s kind of like a variety of things came together,” she said.

The audit will include community focus groups. Wegner says she’s hoping for high participating. Most of the work is expected to be done in December, with a report due out some time in February.