Math FAQ

Q1. Why is there a need to change from Saxon to a new math program?

A1. In recent years the state math standards have changed to become more rigorous. As per our charter, “The school’s curriculum and student expectations meet or exceed all the standards of the Utah State Core Curriculum that serves as a foundation to the subjects taught and provides a minimum basis for academic requirements.” As teachers have implemented these new standards we have found Saxon has come short in directly meeting these standards.

Included below is a report conducted by an independent and unbiased group in which they studied several math programs being used in public schools across the country.  As you can tell, Saxon is well below where we want our math program to be.





Q2. Our Charter states we use the Saxon Math Program.

A2. Our charter also states “NWA intends to continually improve upon its curriculum and reserves the right, under following the direction of its Governing Board, to modify the curriculum accordingly, while remaining true to the Philosophy of NWA.” (pg 13)

  • In 2011 our teachers went through and aligned our programs to the new standards. It appeared those scholars being taught the level above would be taught the standards.

  • In 2014 we began testing of the new standards. We found scholars could answer the simple questions, but were missing some deeper applications as well as some concepts not taught. Those working below grade level were not being introduced to their grade level standards.  

  • In 2015 we continued to do small groups but added a “core” math time as well to homeroom classes. Scholars were spending a lot of time in math which meant we were taking the time from other subjects.

  • In 2016 our 4th - 6th grades focused on grouping across the grade level for math. This was the start of our scholars getting deeper applications and multiple ways to solve problems based on their grade level. Teachers pulled from various Saxon levels and used state resources to teach these concepts. Through testing and using IXL, we could see which standards had been mastered and which still needing additional teaching. Many of our accelerated scholars were missing basic concepts needed.

  • Now in 2017 to assist the teachers in the classroom, we have added Eureka Math, a tool to help teach the standards, and Mastery Connect, a tool to help assess they understand the standard. Each scholar took a test at the beginning of the year and was placed in groups based on the standards mastered.

  • We have found for the majority of our scholars, we were not helping them reach the depth of knowledge needed for today’s standards. We needed to adjust our programs to help all reach this elevated level.

Q3. Why do we need to teach the state standards?

A3. 1)  Noah Webster Academy is a state funded charter school.  By receiving state                                                                                       funds, we agree to teach the standards set forth by the Utah State Board of Education.  

2)  Our teachers are certified by the state of Utah with the understanding that    they will teach the Utah standards.  Much like doctors and lawyers are licensed to practice with a specific set of standards, so are our teachers.

3)  We want our scholars to leave our school as prepared as they possibly can be to meet their next set of challenges.  Whether a scholar graduates and moves into junior high or they move to a different elementary school, they will enter schools where these standards are not only used but expected.  

Q4. Why are we using Eureka Math?

A4. There are dozens of math programs available and being used across the United States.  We wanted a program to use at Noah Webster that not only met the new state standards but also made our scholar’s mathematical education deeper than it has before.  We don’t want to teach shortcuts so they can be regurgitated at test time.  We want our scholars to have a thorough understanding that they can carry with them the rest of their lives.

Eureka’s lessons give a wealth of resources on how to teach concepts to struggling, on level, and above level scholars.  Teachers are supported more than they have been before in addressing the individual needs found within the classroom.  Concepts are presented with multiple strategies to help scholar’s understanding.  While one method may work well for one scholar, another’s brain might need a different explanation.  Eureka does an excellent job in facilitating this.

While Eureka math is our math program, at Noah Webster our biggest resources are our teachers.  Teachers will use Eureka to guide their instruction while still adapting lessons to fit the needs of their individual students.  Sometimes lessons can be skipped when a concept is already mastered.  Other times teachers may need to spend a few days on one lesson until mastery is achieved.  We leave these decisions in the trusted hands of our excellent teachers.   

Q5. How do you plan to help my child who excels (or struggles) at math?

A5. We want every child at this school to excel and progress in their education.  Whether a scholar struggles or excels in math, we want them to be able to feel confident in their abilities while being challenged to move to their next level.

We will still be ability grouping scholars (see the next question) so they will receive instruction better tailored to their individual levels.  Struggling scholars will be given resources and time to master concepts they need extra attention with.  These scholars often move up in their groups once they have this focused time away from the stresses of having to “keep up.”

Accelerated scholars have the same opportunity to have more focused group time on concepts the teacher can take to deeper and more complex levels.  They will be expanding their mathematical understanding of grade level concepts and, often, moving to concepts beyond their grade level.

Q6. Are scholars still grouped for math classes? Do we still have small groups?

A7. Yes. Legally, core concepts like math must be taught by a licensed teacher.  We will still be using our wonderful instructors, just in a supplementary manner.  We will still be leveling and grouping our math classes based on the individual needs of each grade level.  Scholars will receive their main instruction from a homeroom teacher, after which some scholars will go with instructors to smaller groups to further build upon concepts that had been taught.  This may include reviewing previous concepts for struggling scholars or expanding concepts for our accelerated scholars.  How instructors are used during this time will be left up to the teachers of each grade.  If you, as parents, ever see the need for an adjustment please contact your scholar’s teacher to discuss the matter with them.

Q7. What resources are available to me as a parent?

A8. One of the best aspects of Eureka math is the amazing amount of digital content that comes with it.  Every lesson, homework, math facts, classwork, etc is available on our website at:  https://noahwebsteracademy.org/programs/eureka_math These are available in both English & Spanish!  One of the best resources are the Tips for Parent sheets.  These summarize what was taught in the lesson and what parents can do to help them.  They are wonderful refreshers for all of us who forgot what learning was like in some of these grades.

Q8. Is this Common Core Math?

A9. No. Here in Utah we follow the Utah Core Standards which, again, aren’t rules on how we have to teach math, they are just standards in which we measure our scholar’s growth by.

Rest assured we will not be requiring scholars to do math one specific and rigid way.  If the standard says “Adding two digit numbers by two digit numbers” we will teach it as many number of ways it takes for scholars to understand but will not require them to do it one specific way.  Our goal is that they can accomplish the end goal, not doing it a specific teachers way or the Eureka way.  All scholars approach math differently and we encourage them to find out what works for them to succeed.

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