6/18/16 ABSS hopes to delay revised math courses

ABSS hopes to delay revised math courses
By Jessica Williams, The Times-News 6/18/16  
Reprinted with permission.      

   Revised state high school math standards may be a welcome change for some parents and students, but not administrators or teachers.

   The state Senate tentatively approved a two-track approach to math classes this week, giving parents and students the choice of either the integrated approach, which was developed as part of the Common Core curriculum adopted in 2012, or the traditional approach. The difference between them is a matter of when students learn certain skills. For example, the integrated approach teaches algebraic skills throughout multiple classes, whereas the traditional approach teaches those skills in Algebra I.

   The change was made after the board considered teachers’ comments from surveys and the recommendations of the High School Data Review Committee. Common Core standards have also been widely criticized by parents who claim they’re too confusing and prevent them from helping their kids with their homework.

   Kent Byrd, Senior Executive Director of Secondary School Leadership for Alamance-Burlington Schools, says he hopes the board allows a two-year delay option for implementing this choice, especially considering the adoption of integrated standards is so recent.

   “It would be a tremendous challenge for us,” he said. “We just spent quite a bit of money on a new math adoption to align with the new math sequence and got rid of a lot of resources that aligned with the traditional sequence.”

   It would mean starting from scratch for a lot of teachers as well.

   “It’s been a huge transition for teachers of math in high school and they’ve done an incredible job at it… and we’ve seen progress as a result of that hard work, so to go back and undo that would be a morale issue for sure,” Byrd said. “On the resources front, we don’t have unlimited math teachers so having the human resources to be able to offer two tracks is going to be a challenge.”

   Aside from a possible delay, there’s not much choice in the matter. Byrd said when the time comes to make a change, the administration will do its best to aid teachers.

   “We’re proud of our math teachers in Alamance-Burlington,” he added. “We’ve got a great support structure through our curriculum division for our math teachers, and everyone will work hard to do what we’re required to do.”

   The N.C. Department of Public Instruction reviews course standards on a five-year cycle and mathematics is currently being reviewed. The department will partner with local teachers again in the fall to revise standards for K-8 math courses. The two-track measure still needs House approval.