Georgia Board of Education OKs math flexibility for its schools

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The Georgia Board of Education voted Monday to give schools options for students struggling with the new integrated math curriculum.

From STAFF REPORTS news@newnan.com In a widely anticipated move, the Georgia Board of Education has voted to give schools flexibility in the math classes they offer — giving them a choice between the new “integrated math” model versus a more traditional math curriculum. The board met on Monday and approved the recommendation by State School Superintendent John D. Barge to allow four separate courses to be taught, Associated Press reports.
“We have many students who are currently struggling with the integrated approach to the math curriculum,” Barge said.  The four new courses — GPS Algebra, GPS Geometry, GPS Advanced Algebra, and GPS Pre-Calculus — are taught in a more traditional fashion.  “We are seeing that a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t in the best interest of all of our students,” Barge said. “Our systems need the flexibility to teach in the manner that best meets the needs of their students and local system leaders are best positioned to make those decisions.” Students struggling with the integrated curriculum will now earn core credit for support classes. Students must receive four units of math in order to graduate.   Barge said 17 percent of Georgia high school juniors have earned no more than one math credit, putting them at risk of not graduating. He said many students are taking multiple math courses, making them unable to take other electives. Barge campaigned last year on changing the curriculum, saying the integrated math classes confuse some students and fluster teachers. The four courses contained in the more traditional “discrete” delivery model will provide an alternative sequencing of the same rigorous standards as the Math I, Math II, Math III, and Math IV courses in the current integrated delivery model, Coweta County Mathematics Content Specialist Lynn Skinner said after hearing of the state board’s decision. Concern about the performance of students in integrated mathematics courses and concern that sequencing has prevented some students from mastering the standards to the level that they are capable spurred the state board education decision to approve the additional courses, Skinner said. There has been some concern that if schools and school systems are allowed to simply choose which delivery model to implement, students who transfer from one school to another could be placed at a distinct disadvantage. Skinner acknowledged that the sequence won’t be exactly the same. “Although the sequencing of high school mathematics standards is different for the newly approved courses, it is important for students and parents to realize that the standards remain the same,” Skinner said. “The courses in the discrete delivery model are not a ‘watered-down’ curriculum,” Skinner said. “Courses in the discrete delivery model will have the same level of rigor as those in the integrated pathway.” Barge held a conference call with district superintendents throughout the state Monday. Curriculum maps for the newly approved courses, which will indicate the scope and sequence for each course, are being developed by mathematics program specialists at the Georgia Department of Education. “High school mathematics course offerings are being considered,” Skinner said. “Student and parent advisement will be ongoing for the next several weeks. Parents can expect information from principals and counselors as decisions about course offerings are made.” As to what will happen next year, incoming Coweta Schools Superintendent Dr. Barker said, “we do not have the final answer.” The problem is that some schools have just completed phasing in the new method of teaching math, and now they’re being asked to turn around and phase back into the old one, he said. “We did this very thing, going into the integrated approach,” said Barker. “We’ve done it before, so there is a way to phase it in.” Barker said the school system is “looking to get some answers” so it can proceed with planning for next year. - The earlier AP story follows: ATLANTA (AP) -- The Georgia Board of Education has approved allowing schools flexibility in the math classes they offer. The board met on Monday and approved the recommendation by State School Superintendent John D. Barge to allow four separate courses to be taught to students who may be struggling with the integrated curriculum. The four new courses - GPS Algebra, GPS Geometry, GPS Advanced Algebra, and GPS Pre-Calculus - are taught in a more traditional fashion. Students struggling with the integrated curriculum will now earn core credit for support classes. Students must receive four units of math in order to graduate. Many students are taking multiple math courses, making them unable to take other electives. Barge campaigned last year on changing the curriculum, saying the classes confuse some students and fluster teachers. . © 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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