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Despite pleas from parents, high school students, traditional math stays out

The Fayette County Board of Education on April 19 took up the issue of continuing with the school system’s high school integrated math curriculum endorsed by the state or returning to the traditional math curriculum. The board after the discussion voted 3-2 to keep the integrated curriculum. Students needing assistance can receive that help during the instructional focus period, officials said.

School system mathematics Coordinator Lynn Ridgeway at a previous meeting had advocated for keeping the integrated curriculum, noting that it had been supported at the state level and adding that to run both the integrated and traditional systems simultaneously would be difficult to support.

“We believe that our students should continue to have the opportunity to learn content in both geometry and data analysis and statistics while they are learning algebra,” Ridgeway said in an April 1 memo in support of continuing the integrated approach rather than going back to the long-held approach of teaching one math subject followed by another. “They should continue to see mathematics as an integrated whole, with connections across the content domains, that will prepare them to thrive in a rapidly changing technological global economy.”

Superintendent Jeff Bearden acted on staff suggestions and made his recommendation that the school system keep the integrated curriculum.

Board member Marion Key advocated for providing both integrated and traditional math approaches. She noted that the integrated math curriculum is good for accelerated students but not for all students. Illustrating that position, Key read from a list of comments by teachers and parents who believe that students and parents should be given the option of choosing which curriculum best meets students’ needs.

The list cited issues with the integrated curriculum such as memorizing math does not lead to higher order thinking skills, the curriculum goes too fast and students do not have sufficient time to learn it well, even good math students are not doing well in this course and math tutorial businesses are doing a booming business due to the integrated curriculum.

“This is not the teacher’s fault. Teachers go well beyond,” Key said in proposing that both systems be taught. “I’ve just heard too many complaints. Some students are memorizing but not learning the concepts.”

Chairman Bob Todd said he, too, wanted parents and students to have the option of either integrated or traditional approaches to math.

Board member Janet Smola during the discussion advocated for going with the staff suggestion, adding that Key’s concern could be resolved by having math support addressed during the high school instruction focus period.

The vote to keep the integrated curriculum was 3-2, with Smola and board members Terri Smith and Sam Tolbert in favor and Key and Todd opposed.

Todd prior to the vote said that he would liked to have seen parents provide their perspective to the board rather than only hearing the position of school system staff.



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