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Eureka Math: Fact or Fiction?


Fact or Fiction?: It took almost a full year to select Eureka Math as our new program.
Fact.  Recognizing the importance of having a unified and common approach to mathematics education, the District underwent a process of reevaluation of our K-5 math program.  Eureka Math is the program chosen by our committee of teachers and administrators after an extensive and diligent perusal of math programs used in high-performing schools.  

Fact or Fiction?: Our teachers are supported in implementing Eureka Math into their classrooms.
Fact.  While we continue to focus our professional conversations around best practices in Eureka lesson and module delivery we have also engaged in many exercises to continue to support our students and teachers in this implementation year.  The following are the variety of professional development opportunities that we have provided to support our elementary faculty in this endeavor: 

  • Provision of rubric scores for all math programs vetted by our committee,
  • Purchase of teacher resources (print and digital), new math kits for each classroom, and student workbooks by Module
  • Review of Eureka materials during pilot Module last spring, 
  • 4 STEM Planning Days (started last spring) focused on unpacking Eureka resources, 
  • Model Lessons for every classroom teacher provided by our Math Coach during every Module taught (6-8 hours of Eureka lessons for each classroom teacher with their own students),
  • Training sessions for our AIS teachers, Tutors, and Teacher’s Assistants,
  • Using our new Professional Development period to check-in, discuss assessment scoring, etc.,
  • Two rounds of Learning Walks in both elementary buildings to observe levels of student engagement in the program and identify themes and next steps in our implementation, and
  • Review of our assessment materials and administration on a continued basis.


Fact or Fiction?: Eureka Math is “new” math.
Fiction.  Eureka Math was chosen because of its alignment to the New York State Learning Standards that is the basis for our curriculum K-12.  Recognizing our need for a strong foundation for a continuum of instruction, our committee selected this curriculum.  Eureka Math is a program that was written by teachers and math experts who wrote the curriculum to be aligned with the new college- and career-ready standards, which emphasize deeper learning, critical thinking, and conceptual understanding of math.  In addition to getting top marks from for this alignment, Eureka Math also was highly praised for its usability in the classroom.  The standards provide the foundation, but they are only a starting point.  Teachers also need high-quality curriculum and aligned professional development in order to teach students the higher-level knowledge and skills they need for success in the 21st century.

Fact or Fiction?: Student work is not marked by teachers and may be sent home with incorrect answers.
Fact – Teachers focus on the mathematical process and thinking in solving a problem, rather than the correct answer on the paper. At times, when a teacher sees incorrect answers on the problem set, the teacher may remediate through the use of manipulatives in a small group or individually. The focus of the remediation is on the process and the thinking involved in solving the problem. The teacher may or may not have the student correct the work on the paper.

Fact or Fiction?: Eureka Math requires our students to sit for more than an hour to focus on math.
Fiction.  A typical Eureka lesson is comprised of four critical components: fluency practice, concept development (including a problem set), application problem, and student debrief (including the Exit Ticket).  Each component described serves a distinct purpose.  Lesson components include hands-on and cooperative learning experiences where students engage in mathematical conversations, explore challenging problems, and model their thinking.  Together the lesson components promote balanced and rigorous instruction.

  • Fluency Practice: Almost all lessons begin with this component to support development of fluency skills for maintenance (staying sharp on previously learned skills), preparation (targeted practice for the current lesson), and/or anticipation (skills that ensure that students will be ready for the in‐depth work of upcoming lessons).  This component provides daily opportunities for students to gain confidence and motivation for continued learning

  • Concept Development: This component addresses the new content being studied.  Therefore, it is often allotted the majority of the instructional period to give students time for discussion and reflection.  The concept development is generally comprised of carefully sequenced problems centered within a specific topic to begin developing mastery via gradual increases in complexity.  It is also accompanied by an additional set of carefully crafted problems called the “problem set.”  Teachers are encouraged to make choices within this set of problems to provide their students with generally about 10 minutes of additional practice

  • Application Problem: In most lessons, this component is included to provide students with an opportunity to apply their skills and understandings in new ways.  Sometimes the application precedes the concept development, functioning as a springboard into the new learning of the day.  Often the application follows the concept development as an extension of learning

  • Student Debrief: Every lesson closes with this critical component in which the teacher engages students in a whole-group discussion, challenging them to share their thinking and draw conclusions.  This allows the teacher to gauge student understanding of the concept of the lesson, offering another chance for students to gain understanding before attempting the exit ticket


Fact or Fiction?: Eureka Math forces students to use too many strategies.
Fiction.  Eureka Math exposes our students to a variety of strategies in order to teach our students fluency in numbers.  As children become more fluent they will use the method that is most efficient for them.  The same strategies are used year-to-year with different operations so it is important that students maintain a level of comfort using each of the strategies in order to use these tools to construct their mathematical knowledge and thinking.

Fact or Fiction?: Eureka Math requires 180 days to complete all lessons.
Fiction.  We have worked within the suggestions provided to us in the Eureka materials to carefully plan the pacing of our Eureka units.  We found efficiencies and reduced the number of lessons to provide time for additional activities (special events, re-teaching, snow days, etc…).  There are 180 days of lessons provided for each grade-level in Eureka Math, but on average there are about 145 required lessons for each grade-level.  

Fact or Fiction?: Eureka Math forces teachers to follow a script.
Fiction.  Eureka Math is not intended to be followed as a script, instead as a guide to offer support to teachers in the classroom.  For example, the “vignettes” of teacher-student interactions included in Eureka Math are exemplars of instructional situations provided by the teachers who have crafted our curricula.  These vignettes should be used, not as a script, but as a basis for study and discussion among professionals.  We expect and encourage teachers to customize the Eureka Math instructional materials and make them their own.

Fact or Fiction?: Eureka Math takes too long and is taking class time away from other subjects. 
Fiction.  Eureka Math is 1 hour for all grade levels (except in Kindergarten lessons are 50 minutes).  We have always designed our elementary day with 1 hour dedicated to mathematics instruction.  With Eureka Math, this is a dynamic hour of instruction with many different interactive components including student collaboration.

Fact or Fiction?: Eureka Math requires reading comprehension for students to be successful.
Fact.  Eureka Math introduces students to a systematic approach to problem solving: Read, Draw, Write (RDW).  This approach requires students to draw and label models to reason abstractly and quantitatively about the relationships in the problem and to attend to precision in modeling and solving the equation.  When faced with story problems, many young children will arbitrarily add whatever numbers they see.  The RDW process provides students with the tools to think about and model the relationships presented in a given situation.  

  • Read (R): When students are presented with a problem they are asked to read and make sense of the problem.  
  • Draw (D): They are then asked to draw a model to represent the situation and possibly write an equation as well.  
  • Write (W): Finally, students are asked to write a statement with the solution to the problem.

This process helps students to show detailed, specific choices.  Since there are a wide-variety of strategies to choose from, students are able to show their flexible thinking and number fluency in their responses and collaboration with classmates.

Some students may struggle with reading comprehension in general or specifically with reading comprehension in math.  Eureka Math has many resources to help our faculty support students at their level.

Fact or Fiction?: Eureka Math is the same lesson for every student, regardless of their ability level.
Fiction.  Eureka Math provides the opportunity for teachers to differentiate based on individual student needs.  The problem set (at the end of the concept development) is a time-based activity rather than a product-based activity.  This means that students are working on the problem set for a fixed amount of time (about 10 minutes) regardless of whether they finish all the problems.  Teachers have been asked to identify the problems in the problem set as: Must Do, Could Do, or Extension.  During the allotted time students should first do the Must Do questions, then the Extension Questions.  Time permitting, the Could Do questions are last.  While students are working on this problem set, teachers have the ability to pull small groups of struggling students or provide additional problems for students that have already mastered the grade-level content. 

Lesson Scaffolds are provided for teachers in each lesson to give alternatives for how students access information as well as express and demonstrate their learning.  They address many needs presented by English language learners, students with disabilities, students performing above grade level, and students performing below grade level.  Teachers have access to instructional materials for every grade level so that if needed, they can provide materials for students above or below the grade-level.

Fact or Fiction?: Eureka Math doesn’t allow time for mastery of the content before moving on.
Fiction.  Eureka Math was written by a team of teachers and mathematicians who took great care to present mathematics in a logical progression.  This coherent approach allows teachers to know what incoming students already have learned and ensures that students are prepared for what comes next.  When implemented over time, Eureka Math will dramatically reduce gaps in students learning, instill persistence in problem solving, and prepare students to understand advanced mathematics.  Eureka Math is a spiraling curriculum that minimizes distractions and maximizes coherence between grades while providing students with the opportunity to continually revisit learned strategies and apply them in new ways.

Fact or Fiction?: Eureka Math homework must be completed daily.
Fiction.  Eureka Math homework is designed to provide an opportunity for additional practice of the content from the day’s lesson.  Students are not assigned homework on topics that they have not learned.  If students are struggling with a concept, we have asked teachers to modify or not assign homework that evening.  Since in-class problem sets are designed to be accomplished in 10 minutes during the independent practice portion of the lesson, homework should generally take about the same amount of time.  Teachers are encouraged to make choices within this set of problems to provide their students with about 10 minutes of additional practice at the student’s level of understanding.  In the upper elementary grades, the time may be longer to provide for student perseverance in problem solving.  Perseverance in problem solving is a mathematical practice that is a part of our standards and a practice that our teachers continually work with our students on. Please send the assignment in with a note to the teacher.  We DO NOT WANT any child frustrated and upset over Eureka Math homework.

Fact or Fiction?: Eureka Math assessments do not generate an overall score.
Fact.  Eureka Math assessments use a Progression Toward Mastery to describe and quantify steps that illuminate the gradually increasing understandings that students develop on their way to proficiency.  The learning goal for students is to achieve Step 4 mastery.  These steps are meant to help teachers and students identify and celebrate what the students can do now and what they need to work on next.

A Progression Toward Mastery
Assessment: Task Item and Standards Addressed
Step 1: Little evidence of reasoning without a correct answer
Step 2: Evidence of some reasoning without a correct answer
Step 3: Evidence of some reasoning with a correct answer or evidence of solid reasoning with an incorrect answer
Step 4: Evidence of solid reasoning with a correct answer

Fact or Fiction?: Eureka Math assessment results do not match how my child is performing in class.
Fiction.  Eureka Math includes daily formative assessments in the form of Exit Tickets, as well as Mid-Module and End-of-Module Assessments. The daily Exit Tickets are designed to help teachers reflect on what their students know and can do in order to drive instruction for the following day. The Module Assessments are designed to tie together standards that have been addressed to that point in the Module. Because these Module Assessments are comprised of rigorous items, a scoring rubric is also provided. Please note that a score is not intended to be directly converted to a percentage grade, rather it is a scale score on each assessment item and a student’s proficiency with the standards and skills needed in that particular problem.  These rubrics have positively changed the way we are grading and assessing our students in order to provide more specific and useful feedback to students and parents on how to progress towards mastery.  Our teachers and administrative team continue to evaluate the Eureka Math assessments and use a variety of data points to determine a child’s level of mathematics proficiency including: the Eureka assessments, student participation and discussion during lessons, performance on problem sets, and iReady and ALEKS instructional diagnostics.  Eureka Math helps provide just some of the data points used by teachers to accurately evaluate a student’s level of proficiency.