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State allows schools to choose method to teach math

Integrated curriculum giving some students trouble

POSTED: March 15, 2011 12:29 a.m.

Schools across the state now have more flexibility in teaching math. And local leaders are thankful, though they aren’t quite sure what they’ll do with that freedom.

The Georgia Board of Education approved a recommendation Monday by State School Superintendent John Barge to allow four separate courses for those who may be struggling with the integrated math curriculum introduced in recent years.

Integrated math blends algebra, geometry and other math concepts in each class rather than separating them. Separate Georgia Performance Standards classes for algebra, geometry, advanced algebra and pre-calculus can now be taught in the more traditional fashion.

Melissa Stewart, math teacher on special assignment for Hall County Schools, said giving districts the flexibility to choose was the right decision. Districts can choose between traditional or integrated or use a combination of the two.

“Each school board has invested different amounts of money, and teachers have invested so much time in the current curriculum,” she said. “Giving them a choice is the best.”

She added that the changes may not be in place for long. In the next two years, the state will join 40 other states in adopting a math curriculum under the Common Core Standards. Common Core, a state-led initiative, creates a uniform set of rules for states in math and English.

Stewart said the district will look at online courses in April for students who have struggled with the integrated math. It would be implemented next school year.

“It could be in conjunction with other counties,” she said.

She added, “a majority of our students will stay on the course we’re on now, unless we see there’s a better option for our kids.”

Gainesville City Schools Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said the decision whether to include traditional math courses will ultimately be up to the Gainesville High School math team. The decision will have to be made soon, she added.

“We’re planning scheduling and personnel now,” she said. “We need to see if we have personnel to offer it on a full scale.”

Any changes, she said would only apply to upcoming ninth-graders.

Dyer added that many students are doing well with integrated math and it’s best not to have a knee-jerk reaction to the decision.

“It could be something other than the delivery system. We need to see what they’re having trouble with,” she said.

The Gainesville district also is considering online options.

“Online options may give us an option for some students to stay with discreet math without having a whole new group of personnel,” Dyer said.

Associated Press contributed to this report.


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