Amidst Controversy, WCPSS Bets STEM Futures on MVP Math

Is Wake County Public School System’s new discovery-style curriculum friend or foe to students?


Published:

Photo courtesy of Caftor/Shutterstock.com

(page 1 of 4)

The answer to two plus two will always equal four, but that doesn’t mean math must always be taught the same way.

Wake County Public School System subscribes to this point of view. Following what it called a “comprehensive curriculum review process” during the 2016-17 school year, the state’s largest and — nation’s 15th largest — school system introduced changes to how Math 1, Math 2 and Math 3 would be taught by rolling out a new curriculum during the 2017-18 school year known as MVP, an acronym for what the curriculum’s creators refer to as the Mathematics Vision Project.

Based on Common Core standards and created in 2011 by administrators and teachers representing public middle and high schools in Utah, as well as a Brigham Young University associate professor, MVP made its way into WCPSS Math 1 classrooms during the 2017-18 school year. It was implemented for Math 2 and about half of the district’s Math 3 classes during the 2018-19 school year, with the original goal of phasing MVP into remaining Math 3 classes during the 2019-20 school year. (That implementation goal has since changed. More on that later.)

Adoption of MVP in WCPSS occurred three years after neighboring Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools began using it for Math 1, Math 2 and Math 3, but acceptance of the curriculum has been nothing short of contentious for many students, parents and educators in both school districts.

Carolina Parent conducted a thorough investigation of WCPSS’s adoption of MVP and, because this is an ongoing issue for Triangle families, we plan to publish a series of articles on this subject. In our first installment, we present the following sections:

Part 1: Implementation of MVP

Part 2: Perspectives of MVP

Part 3: Reactions to MVP Implementation


Part 1: Implementation of MVP

Jump to:
How MVP Defines Its Curriculum • How WCPSS Defines MVPThe Cost of MVP


Back in 2008, the economic recession impacting the U.S. resulted in what WCPSS Assistant Superintendent for Academics Drew Cook describes as “significant cuts” across school systems throughout the country. Locally, Cook says WCPSS experienced reductions in and, in some cases, elimination of funding for resources such as textbooks.*

Fast-forward to 2016. WCPSS recognized, “that we were long overdue for and needed additional resources,” Cook says. “So to verify that we actually conducted an external curriculum audit for K-12 across content areas, including mathematics.”

The audit revealed what WCPSS already knew, according to Cook: “The vast majority of the curriculum materials and resources that our classroom teachers were using were not aligned to the North Carolina state standards,” he says. “At the time of the adoption of MVP, it had been nearly a decade, if not more, since the last time there was a district-wide adoption of high school math curriculum.”

There was also wide variation across — even within — WCPSS schools regarding the resources students had access to.

“It was not because teachers weren’t making an effort. Primarily, because of the lack of district- and state-provided resources for so many years, teachers were having to create, develop and implement their own curriculum,” he says. “It’s not as if there was no curriculum. I think the fair statement is, there were lots of curriculums. ... The district was doing the best it could during those times when resources were fiscally and otherwise not available to provide resources that teachers in schools could draw from.”

Michelle Tucker, director of K-12 mathematics for WCPSS, says MVP math provides these resources while also offering consistency and accessibility to students across the district.

“I think the important thing for us in looking at how large our school system is, and looking at the consistency with which we want to provide students a quality math education, was ensuring that all students have access to a rigorous curriculum, and that that weight did not fall on the shoulders of a teacher. We ensured that students were going to have a viable curriculum that aligned to the North Carolina state standards, which, over the course of this time, were also changing and adapting,” she says.

Janet Sutorius, co-founder of MVP, says WCPSS reached out to MVP creators as part of the procurement process after hearing that the curriculum reflected current research regarding the teaching and learning of mathematics, and that it had been successfully implemented in other districts located throughout the U.S. Michael Yarbrough, senior administrator for communications at WCPSS, says this communication occurred in 2017.

“They felt that our curriculum was well suited for the county’s high academic standards,” Sutorius says.

She and her colleagues were aware of WCPSS teachers using a variety of what she describes as “disconnected” resources to teach math. “Prior to the adoption of MVP math, Wake County schools had no cohesive high school mathematics curriculum,” she says.

*Carolina Parent has obtained public record documents showing that there was funding from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction allotted for textbooks for WCPSS in 2008-09 and every school year since then, although the amounts budgeted for this vary from year to year. We will follow up with NCDPI and WCPSS for more information about this for inclusion in part 2 of this series.


How MVP Defines Its Curriculum

MVP markets its curriculum as “nontraditional” because, founders say, instead of offering lectures and requiring students to memorize math facts and practice math procedures, teachers act as facilitators while students do group work.

Sutorius describes the curriculum as “a cohesive and rigorous program that incorporates the eight guiding principles that are necessary for effective mathematics teaching and learning, as defined by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.”

Each MVP curriculum includes an “intentional lesson design” that “gives students ownership of their learning, and connects math to real-world contexts,” Sutorius says. “But it is the teachers’ responsibility to move students collectively toward, and hold them accountable for, the development of the significant mathematics in each lesson.”

Sutorious says MVP works as a “single, cohesive curriculum aligned with high academic standards” that “allows for better differentiation of instruction for students” and gives teachers “time to focus on instruction and coordinate more effectively with the other mathematics teachers in their school.”

According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau, there were 14,000 school districts in the U.S. in 2010. Sutorius reports that the number of districts using MVP across the country is “at least 50” and that “this number is growing.”

“Districts are finding that MVP math is rigorous and aligned with high standards,” she says. ”It also reflects the effective math teaching practices described by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.”



Photo courtesy of Robert Kneschke/Shutterstock.com


How WCPSS Defines MVP

In a digital flyer, WCPSS defines MVP math as “an open-source high school mathematics curriculum written by and for teachers,” and states that it was “created to address the future needs of students competing in a global community.”

WCPSS offers the following description for how MVP lessons are taught:

“In the MVP classroom, the teacher launches a deep mathematical task and then allows students time to work with a partner or small group on solving a task. The teacher circulates among students and encourages them to explore, question, consider, discuss their ideas and listen to the ideas of their classmates. Then the teacher brings the whole class back together to discuss different solution pathways and the mathematics involved.”

Tucker says because MVP aligns with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics guiding principles, WCPSS is seeing expected teaching practices and student interactions with the curriculum across the district.

“It’s exciting to see this passion that exists now with both teachers and students as they engage with these mathematics and we see these practices come to life,” Tucker says. “All of that is evidence within that MVP curriculum.”


The Cost of MVP

MVP publishes materials free of cost under a Creative Commons license. However, ancillary curriculum support and professional development products created by MVP are available for purchase. As of Sept. 20, 2019, WCPSS had spent approximately $1.7 million on purchases from MVP, according to Yarbrough. This figure does not include the $125,000 approved by the WCPSS Board of Education to cover a third-party independent evaluation by MGT Consulting Group, which is headquartered in Tampa, Florida, as stated in the board’s Aug. 6, 2019, minutes. (Look for more information about this third-party evaluation later in this feature.)

Expenses related to MVP purchases range from printing single-use workbooks to correcting typographical errors and content gaps in the curriculum materials, to professional development costs for teachers to teach the way MVP recommends.

Sutorius confirms WCPSS’s interest in purchasing professional development training. “Wake County has made every effort to provide each math teacher who is assigned an MVP course with professional development,” she says. “The teachers I visited with were very interested in the curriculum, but were also clear about their need for professional development during implementation. The administrators who were attending the sessions promised the teachers that they would receive professional development.”

It’s important to note that MVP can benefit financially from this scenario. In a YouTube video published on May 31, 2013, Travis Lemon, another MVP founder, says: "We kind of planned that, OK, if we create these materials and we help people see the value of how this can play out in classrooms, we might actually make money on the professional development."

 

Next page: "Part 2: Perspectives of MVP"
Jump to "Part 3: Reactions to MVP Implementation"

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Sponsor: Wildflower School at Belle Vie Farm
Telephone: 919-260-6859
Contact Name: Shelley Welch
Website »

More information

Hounded by Death, the character of Everybody desperately seeks out everyone and everything they know in hope of finding something meaningful to take to the grave. These 90 minutes of theatrical...

Cost: Ticket prices start at $15

Where:
PlayMakers' Repertory Company
120 Country Club Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27599
View map »


Telephone: 919-962-7529

More information

Rumpelstiltskin-A Tale of Gold Book by Ellie FaggionMusic and Lyrics written by Brian Shrager and Ellie FaggionProduced by special arrangement with the author.Directed by Beth Wilson...

Cost: varies

Where:
Spiritual Twist Productions
1250 Aversboro Road
Garner, NC  27529
View map »


Sponsor: Spiritual Twist Productions
Telephone: 919-977-1976
Contact Name: Kathy MacDonald
Website »

More information

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Forget tourist-filled museums, make your own memories with a photo scavenger hunt tour in Raleigh! On a Let’s Roam scavenger hunt, you and your team will work together to wander throughout...

Cost: $11

Where:
500 S Salisbury St
raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Website »

More information

Join us for the Kids Exchange Spring/Summer Consignment Sale in July! This FREE ADMISSION event is the largest kids consignment sale in the nation and is held at the NC State Fairgrounds at...

Cost: 0 – $10

Where:
Jim Graham Building
1025 Blue Ridge Road
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Join us for the Kids Exchange Spring/Summer Consignment Sale in February!   This FREE ADMISSION event is the largest kids consignment sale in the nation and is held at the NC State Fairgrounds...

Cost: Free

Where:
Jim Graham Building
1025 Blue Ridge Road
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »

More information

Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
Website »

More information

Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

Chip, chip, hooray! The first Zambrero in the Southeast is opening on January 24 with zingy, zesty activities! Bodacious Burritos and Bowls: $5 burritos and bowls all day Delicious Drawing: A...

Cost: Free

Where:
1 Glenwood Ave
#105
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: (919) 863-2561
Website »

More information

Just in time to keep up with those home improvement resolutions for 2020, the Downtown Raleigh Home Show returns to downtown’s Raleigh Convention Center January 24-26, 2020  with a jam-packed...

Cost: Tickets are $12 for adults and free for children under 12. Advance $9 tickets

Where:
Raleigh Convention Center
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Marketplace Events
Telephone: 904-608-3823
Contact Name: Liz Morgan

More information

Skate on an ice trail or free skate on 17,000 sq. ft of ice. Located in the Upper Pond of the Whitewater Center, the skating environment features three distinct programming areas and an on-ice...

Cost: 20

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Lights is a half-mile walking trail that leads viewers through a series of immersive light installations featuring  honeycombs, vines, crystals, and other natural features integrated into the...

Cost: Free

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

Triangle Restaurant Week (January 20-26, 2020) is a week-long celebration of culinary excellence designed to incorporate the premier Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and surrounding area restaurants....

Cost: $15-$35

Where:
Participating Restaurants
, NC


Sponsor: Triangle Blvd
Telephone: 919-673-5784
Website »

More information

Take a hike after dark and enjoy the sights and sounds of a quiet night along the American Tobacco Trail. We will walk to the Beaver Creek bridge and back (about one mile total). Free for ages 4...

Cost: Free

Where:
American Tobacco Trail
1309 New Hill-Olive Chapel Rd.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park and the American Tobacco Trail
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

More information

Hounded by Death, the character of Everybody desperately seeks out everyone and everything they know in hope of finding something meaningful to take to the grave. These 90 minutes of theatrical...

Cost: Ticket prices start at $15

Where:
PlayMakers' Repertory Company
120 Country Club Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27599
View map »


Telephone: 919-962-7529

More information

Rumpelstiltskin-A Tale of Gold Book by Ellie FaggionMusic and Lyrics written by Brian Shrager and Ellie FaggionProduced by special arrangement with the author.Directed by Beth Wilson...

Cost: varies

Where:
Spiritual Twist Productions
1250 Aversboro Road
Garner, NC  27529
View map »


Sponsor: Spiritual Twist Productions
Telephone: 919-977-1976
Contact Name: Kathy MacDonald
Website »

More information

David Burney, lead singer for the acclaimed Johnny Cash tribute band Johnny Folsom 4, brings his one-man show to The ArtsCenter for three shows, January 24-26, 2020.  In “Hello, I’m...

Cost: $15 to $20

Where:
The ArtsCenter
300-G East Main St.
300-G East Main Street.
Carrboro, NC  27510
View map »


Sponsor: The ArtsCenter
Telephone: 919-929-2787
Contact Name: Patrick Phelps-Mckeown
Website »

More information

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Show Less...

Forget tourist-filled museums, make your own memories with a photo scavenger hunt tour in Raleigh! On a Let’s Roam scavenger hunt, you and your team will work together to wander throughout...

Cost: $11

Where:
500 S Salisbury St
raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Website »

More information

Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
Website »

More information

Join the Museum and the Raleigh Astronomy Club to help you see the big picture — of the Universe! From comet crafts to solar observing, lectures to rocket launches, space enthusiasts of all ages...

Cost: Free

Where:
NC Museum of Natural Sciences
11 W. Jones St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Join us for the Kids Exchange Spring/Summer Consignment Sale in February!   This FREE ADMISSION event is the largest kids consignment sale in the nation and is held at the NC State Fairgrounds...

Cost: Free

Where:
Jim Graham Building
1025 Blue Ridge Road
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »

More information

Join us for the Kids Exchange Spring/Summer Consignment Sale in July! This FREE ADMISSION event is the largest kids consignment sale in the nation and is held at the NC State Fairgrounds at...

Cost: 0 – $10

Where:
Jim Graham Building
1025 Blue Ridge Road
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

RALEIGH (Jan. 16, 2020) – The North Carolina Association for Public Charter Schools will host its first school fair during National School Choice Week on Saturday, Jan. 25. The fair will take...

Cost: Free

Where:
Raleigh Convention Center
500 S. Salisbury Street
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: NC Association of Public Charter Schools
Telephone: 336-669-9996
Contact Name: Rhonda Dillingham
Website »

More information

Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

Family Wildlife Series: Tricky Tracks Saturday, January 25 10-11 a.m. Come dressed for the weather so you can roam the park learning the fine art of “tracking”.   Make a cast of an animal...

Cost: Free

Where:
Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Road
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Telephone: 919-870-4330
Website »

More information

Join the statewide kickoff to Black History Month at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh. Named a Top 20 Event by the Southeast Tourism Society since 2015, the 19th...

Cost: 0

Where:
North Carolina Museum of History
5 East Edenton Street
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Just in time to keep up with those home improvement resolutions for 2020, the Downtown Raleigh Home Show returns to downtown’s Raleigh Convention Center January 24-26, 2020  with a jam-packed...

Cost: Tickets are $12 for adults and free for children under 12. Advance $9 tickets

Where:
Raleigh Convention Center
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Marketplace Events
Telephone: 904-608-3823
Contact Name: Liz Morgan

More information

Skate on an ice trail or free skate on 17,000 sq. ft of ice. Located in the Upper Pond of the Whitewater Center, the skating environment features three distinct programming areas and an on-ice...

Cost: 20

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Lights is a half-mile walking trail that leads viewers through a series of immersive light installations featuring  honeycombs, vines, crystals, and other natural features integrated into the...

Cost: Free

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

Spanish Alive is providing Family Spanish classes starting in January! Join us to learn Spanish as an entire family in an immersive, fun environment. Our teachers are trained Spanish educators and...

Cost: $75-$216

Where:
Spanish Alive
156 E. Chatham St
Cary, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Winter days find many animals curled up in their dens. They sleep warmly, awakening in spring ready to enjoy the renewed Earth. Discover how animals deal with cold weather and which ones hibernate...

Cost: For all ages; FREE. Registration is required for all family members,& childre

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Rumpelstiltskin-A Tale of Gold Book by Ellie FaggionMusic and Lyrics written by Brian Shrager and Ellie FaggionProduced by special arrangement with the author.Directed by Beth Wilson...

Cost: varies

Where:
Spiritual Twist Productions
1250 Aversboro Road
Garner, NC  27529
View map »


Sponsor: Spiritual Twist Productions
Telephone: 919-977-1976
Contact Name: Kathy MacDonald
Website »

More information

Come support your NC State Gymnastics team as they open the 2020 home season against the Towson Tigers on January 25th at 4 PM. Tickets start at just $3!

Cost: $3-$7

Where:
Reynolds Coliseum
2411 Dunn Ave
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »

More information

Triangle Restaurant Week (January 20-26, 2020) is a week-long celebration of culinary excellence designed to incorporate the premier Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and surrounding area restaurants....

Cost: $15-$35

Where:
Participating Restaurants
, NC


Sponsor: Triangle Blvd
Telephone: 919-673-5784
Website »

More information

Join us in Arendelle for Frozen-inspired STEAM activities for the whole family! Included in the ticket cost is dinner and dessert for the whole family, make your own sock Olaf and Frozen bouncy...

Cost: $35 per family

Where:
Kidzu Children's Museum
201 S. Estes Dr.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Sponsor: Kidzu Children's Museum
Telephone: 919-933-1455
Website »

More information

AML Wrestling presents our 5th Anniversary Celebration! WHEN: Saturday, January 25th, 2020WHERE: Winston-Salem Fairgrounds in theHome & Garden Building 408 27th Street NW/Gate #9 Winston-Salem, NC...

Cost: $5

Where:
Winston-Salem Fairgrounds
408 27th Street NW/Gate #9
Winston-Salem, NC  27105
View map »


Sponsor: AML Wrestling
Telephone: 336-831-0646
Contact Name: Tracy Myers
Website »

More information

Hounded by Death, the character of Everybody desperately seeks out everyone and everything they know in hope of finding something meaningful to take to the grave. These 90 minutes of theatrical...

Cost: Ticket prices start at $15

Where:
PlayMakers' Repertory Company
120 Country Club Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27599
View map »


Telephone: 919-962-7529

More information

David Burney, lead singer for the acclaimed Johnny Cash tribute band Johnny Folsom 4, brings his one-man show to The ArtsCenter for three shows, January 24-26, 2020.  In “Hello, I’m...

Cost: $15 to $20

Where:
The ArtsCenter
300-G East Main St.
300-G East Main Street.
Carrboro, NC  27510
View map »


Sponsor: The ArtsCenter
Telephone: 919-929-2787
Contact Name: Patrick Phelps-Mckeown
Website »

More information

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Education Guide

The 2019-20 Education Guide offers 718 education resources in the Triangle, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools and academic resources.

The Triangle Go-To Guide

Our Triangle Go-To Guide connects you to family fun resources across the Triangle. In our 2019-20 issue, explore 1,028 resources for family fun.