New standards mean new books for schools


HONOLULU — The transition to teaching Hawaii public school children under revised standards known as Common Core has cost $26 million for new textbooks.

Common Core standards are nationally recognized measures designed to set out what students should know from kindergarten through high school. Hawaii is among 41 states that have adopted the initiative, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

Teachers began the transition last year. The change was not meant to limit what educators can teach, said Dewey Gottlieb, Department of Education specialist for math.

“This move toward standardization — we’re not going to script teachers; we’re not trying to micromanage their everyday moves; we’re not trying to take away any instructional decisions,” Gottlieb said this week at a Board of Education meeting.

The department wants teachers to be creative and innovative with the core programs to best suit student needs, he said.

The state’s 255 public schools were using 288 different math curricula and 287 different reading curricula in use, said Gottlieb and language arts specialist Petra Schatz.

Review committees made up mostly of classroom teachers evaluated math and reading programs. For math lessons from kindergarten through fifth grade, the Department of Education chose Stepping Stones by Missouri-based Origo Education. For students in sixth through eighth grade, the department chose Go Math by Boston-based Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

About half of Hawaii elementary schools are incorporating the math program this year.

High schools will use math programs developed by the Department of Education and the University of Hawaii’s College of Education.

“All of the high school programs that we reviewed did not meet that minimum threshold to be considered for adoption,” Gottlieb said. “The teachers felt that the programs that were available for high school mathematics didn’t represent what Common Core was asking them to do.”

For language arts education through fifth grade, the Department of Education selected the Reading Wonders program by New York-based McGraw-Hill. For grades six through 12, the department chose the SpringBoard language arts program by The College Board, also of New York.

About three-fourths of elementary schools and half of the state’s 94 middle and high schools are implementing the language arts program this school year.