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River Forest D90 commits $92K now for 5 more years of math experts say should lower achievement

The River Forest District 90 board voted unanimously at their April 17, 2023 meeting in favor of spending $92,100.80 now to fund five more years using the same K-5 math curriculum (Investigations) that corresponds with declines in district math achievement. The Investigations curriculum replaced Math Expressions following the District's adoption of a 2016 equity policy.


Alison Hawley, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, recommended committing the district to five more years saying “this quote represents all upfront costs for the next five years – it’s all in” for the Investigations curriculum. There were no questions or discussion of student achievement under the Investigations curriculum; the board was asked only to approve spending.


Board members Avalos, Eckmann, Davis, Moore, Thompson, Williams, and Hickey approved doubling down on the Investigations curriculum as part of an equity-based policy that Hawley and others said would “lower the ceiling” on student achievement.


A comparative study found “all of the significant differences favored Math Expressions or Saxon over Investigations or SFAW”. According to the National Center for Education Evaluation, whereas the teacher’s role using the former curriculum Math Expressions was to explain, model and facilitate the production of ideas, the Investigations curriculum relies on the student production of ideas.


The Illinois State Board of Education reports declines in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade math achievement for River Forest after 2016 and prior to covid. In 2019 Hawley explained declines following implementation of Investigations were the result of “curriculum drag”, or the inability of River Forest teachers to successfully implement the Investigations curriculum.



On the same night Hawley recommended extending to use of the Activate Learning IQWST science curriculum for six more years. The D90 board approved spending of $16,584.71 now for digital distribution of the curriculum with textbook expenditures planned for the future.


An April 4th, 2023 school board election produced three new District 90 board members. Eric Isenberg, Dr. Kristine Mackey and Joseph Cortese were sworn in on May 1, 2023 replacing Barb Hickey, Rich Moore, and Calvin Davis who in previous years had voted in favor of the initial equity-based changes to curriculum and instruction.


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