Seattle Public Schools


Elementary Mathematics

Elementary Mathematics in SPS

Seattle Public Schools believes in the brilliance of every child. Providing a diversity of learning experiences, sharing a diversity of ideas, and learning from a diversity of solutions allows all of us to uncover that brilliance and let each student shine.

enVision Mathematics is the K-8 math curriculum used by Seattle Public Schools. Realize is the online platform where students can access digital math materials and assignments. Realize can be accessed through the Clever app on student iPads or laptops. You can also access Clever and tech support at the Student & Family Portal.

About Elementary Mathematics

  1. Learning is a social experience that requires discourse and the use of language to organize thinking.
  2. The development of problem-solving and communication skills is of primary importance in math and in the 21st century.
  3. Mathematical learning results from a struggle to make sense of how we arrive at answers, not from answers themselves. This is often referred to as Productive Struggle.
  4. A variety of strategies and representations in math makes problem-solving more authentic and meaningful to individuals.

We recognize that mathematics is the fundamental legacy of human development and that math education is a fundamental human right.

We also recognize that the racial stereotypes around math education are persistent.

We at Seattle Public Schools work to provide culturally responsive teaching that recognizes the brilliance of our students of color, makes math relevant to their lives, and strives to create a welcoming classroom that honors the strengths that each student brings to the class.  Practicing two-way communication with families, sharing instructional power with students, developing a growth mindset, and creating welcoming environments for students and families are steps we are taking to undo the historical status of whiteness in the classroom. 

We will no longer allow some of the brightest minds in our schools to be marginalized in mathematics. The contributions of People of Color to mathematics are enormous and we recognize that our students will carry on that tradition.

Every child is capable of learning mathematics.  Every child should have extensive experience learning the math content of their grade level.  Mathematics is much more than performing arithmetic quickly – it is understanding big math ideas, making connections to the world around us, and using mathematical thinking to solve problems.  Every child should know that they can succeed in mathematics and be confident in their ability to learn mathematics.  Math classrooms should be a place where all students are learning their grade level mathematics together in a positive learning community.  

Practices that separate, sort, and label children as having different levels of mathematical ability are harmful to children’s developing math confidence.  Skipping ahead in math (often referred to as “walk to math”) during elementary school weakens children’s foundation of math understanding and puts them at risk of being unprepared to learn advanced mathematics in middle and high school successfully. 

Math learning is carefully sequenced across K-5 to provide new learning each year that builds on the prior year’s foundation.   The concepts addressed in K-5 mathematics are extremely important and students need time to learn this content properly.  Acceleration approaches that involve skipping standards or grade levels put future learning at risk.

Often, skipping ahead overemphasizes computation and shortchanges children’s opportunities to engage in problem-solving and deeper mathematical thinking.  SPS does not endorse these practices of skipping ahead in elementary mathematics; instead, SPS endorses all children having the opportunity to be challenged to grow their mathematics learning at their grade level.   By creating a strong foundation in grade-level math learning, all students will be prepared to tackle advanced math course opportunities beginning as early as 7th grade.  Research shows that acceleration beyond grade level math should not occur before 7th grade.  Beginning in 7th grade, SPS offers a range of acceleration opportunities that focus on teaching all content at a faster pace, rather than skipping math content.

Using enVision, the SPS K-8 math curriculum, every student will experience math learning that is rich, and engaging and includes opportunities to grow mathematically and do math at more complex levels.  In class, students will be offered opportunities for enrichment, such as extra practice, STEM connections, and individual or group projects.

Families may wonder what their child’s math learning progression will be in middle and high school and whether they will be able to access advanced courses such as Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate when in high school.  SPS has revised its math pathways and implemented new courses to provide opportunities to accelerate beyond grade level math starting at grade 7.  These opportunities are open to any student who is interested.

The key components of enVision math lessons are:

Problem-Based Learning – Through problem-based learning, students engage in rich classroom conversations that promote a growth mindset and result in deeper conceptual understanding.

Visual Learning: – Classrooms engage in visual learning to allow greater access to concepts as teachers make key math ideas explicit.

Guided and Independent Practice – This is an opportunity for students to try out what they have learned about new concepts and for teachers to support their practice.

Responsive Group Learning – An opportunity for teachers to offer more individualized instruction and for students to work on different activities independently or in small groups.

Sharing and Reflection – A time to review the learning of the day and for students to reflect on how they feel about their success.

Rigor in math includes a balance of fluency and procedural skills; conceptual understanding; and application. All three aspects should be pursued with “equal intensity.” Students should 

  • know why – have a conceptual understanding of properties and operations, not just memorization.
  • know-how – using procedural skills and fluency to access more complex concepts.
  • know when – to apply correct concepts and procedures and use math flexibly to solve problems.

A strong elementary math education rests on all three pillars:

Rigor in Math - a triangle with the word "rigor" in the middle and the following on each side: 
Conceptual Understanding (why), Procedural Skills & Fluencey (how), Application (when)

Students will work to form habits that make a mathematical mindset.

These are often called the Standards for Math Practice and they include: using math to model authentic situations, persevere in solving problems, constructing viable arguments, and critiquing the reasoning of others.

Learning Standards are for all of us: students, principals, community partners, teachers, families, and the public.  They define what is important for students to know and be able to do as they progress through school. Standards ensure an equitable education for all students and promote consistency in what is taught to students across our district.

Our Washington State Math Standards are based on the Common Core of math standards – and are held in common with most of the country (40 out of 50 states, plus Washington DC). 

The Common Core Standards are a set of goals for students at each grade level.  The Common Core is not a curriculum or a set of math problems or a style of teaching.

Common Core State Standards Adoption - A map of the united states showing which states have or have not adopted Common Core State Standards. Washington state has adopted Common Core State Standards.

The Seattle Public Schools adopted math instructional material for grades K – 5 is enVision Mathematics.

enVision math is based on project-based learning and the belief that students are best able to develop mathematical understanding through discussion, debate, and application to authentic situations.