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High schools realign math curriculum

POSTED: November 2, 2011 4:00 a.m.

Just four years after integrating algebra, geometry and statistics into one course, Georgia high schools are realigning the math curriculum with a more traditional approach.

Dawson County School Superintendent Keith Porter said he was never an integrated math proponent.

"Our high school students were forced into the new mathematics structure without the elementary preparation necessary for success," he said. "They went through elementary school learning one way. Then upon entering middle school, the curriculum changed."
Porter's comments followed a recent announcement by State School Superintendent John Barge that Georgia would join more than 40 other states in adopting the Common Core Standards curriculum.

The curriculum will take the place of the Georgia Performance Standards.

"The use of performance standards was a good move, but the state could have implemented performance standards and maintained the existing structure of delineated mathematics courses," Porter said.

In 2011, school systems had the choice to teach integrated or discrete math.

The Dawson County school system went with the integrated format to avoid further disrupting the students.

"Superintendent Barge has been placed in a very difficult situation, and he has tried to provide flexibility as possible," Porter said. "However, if the testing program is to be developed to align with discreet mathematics, then we would be doing our students a great disservice not to prepare them to be successful on the student achievement measures and staying with the integrated approach."

Former State Superintendent Kathy Cox introduced integrated math during the 2008-09 school year amid criticism the state's math curriculum was weak and students were not adequately prepared for college math.

Porter said the transition to integrated math presented new problems.

"Transcripts typically have the traditional titles of algebra, geometry ... but our students' transcripts have been presented to colleges with titles that indicate basic math," he said.

"A transcription explanation was made available to colleges so that they would know the content covered went far beyond basic math."

Porter said there were also issues when determining how to code traditional courses for students who transferred from out of state.

"With their traditional courses, we also had to teach to fill in the gaps created by the curriculum being different from Georgia as they entered subsequent courses," he said.

Porter said the system's end-of-course tests were also changed to align with the different curriculum, with fewer students passing than in prior years.

"We take these tests every semester, since we use the block schedule, so our data varies," he said. "But it appears that we have experienced between a 10 to 15 percent drop in our pass rate," he said.

Next year's ninth-graders will begin to see the Common Core Standards fazed into the math curriculum.

Porter said that will be more rigorous than the traditional mathematics in an effort to keep pace with national testing.

"What is really frustrating is that we have spent tremendous financial resources to train teachers ... to align with the integrated curriculum and subsequently asked students to perform at high levels while the curriculum has been in flux," he said. "Now, we begin the process over again."

Current high school students will continue through graduation using integrated math, according to Porter.

 

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