Some parents and guardians may have been involved in the initial stages described in the previous paragraph, but most will become aware that a new curriculum has been adopted only after the fact. They may have questions about why CMP was adopted, why it looks different from traditional textbooks, and what evidence there is of student success. As mentioned above, the unfamiliarity of the problem-centered approach may be an obstacle that parents need help in overcoming. These are questions that a well-prepared district committee can answer or can arrange to have answered in a variety of ways.
Conscientious parents have always been concerned about their children's middle school education. Their concerns usually have two distinct foci:
- What is my role in helping my child be successful now?
- How well does this class prepare my child for high school mathematics and for post-secondary education?
Parents and guardians need to understand the goals of the program. Administrators and teachers can help them do this by keeping them informed, early and often, about both long-term and Unit goals. They should know that the primary goals of CMP are to have students make sense of mathematical concepts, become proficient with basic skills, and communicate their reasoning and understanding clearly. The concepts and topics that students study should be familiar to parents and guardians, but the problem-centered textbooks may not make the particular topic or skill as explicit as the associated student work and reflections will. Parents and guardians need advice and help in making good use of their students' class work as a resource.
The emphasis in reasoning and communication may be less familiar. Curriculum leaders and teachers can help parent and guardians understand why reasoning and communication are valued and that the program provides many opportunities to demonstrate students' progress in these areas. There are many specific ways that a district can gain the support of parents and guardians, and keep them informed.