Education

More News | |

Schools alter math lessons

  • Follow Education

A new school year has brought curriculum changes, and in Georgia and South Carolina a major focus is on math.

Back | Next
Third-grade students Riley Morris (right) and Emma Muniz play a numbers game at Mossy Creek Elementary School. After math scores raised concerns through years of testing, Aiken County schools looked to other resources to supplement textbooks.   Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Third-grade students Riley Morris (right) and Emma Muniz play a numbers game at Mossy Creek Elementary School. After math scores raised concerns through years of testing, Aiken County schools looked to other resources to supplement textbooks.

This year, Math III was introduced to 11th-graders as part of a seven-year process to revolutionize math instruction in Georgia middle and high schools.

Where math classes once were delineated by a particular discipline, such as algebra or geometry, courses now combine them.

"It's no longer students just plugging numbers into a formula to calculate an answer," said Kimberly Belcher, a Math III teacher at Lakeside High School. "Students are now learning multiple concepts to see the relationship between and discover for themselves why those formulas work."

Belcher's student Taylor Goodin, 16, likes the multiple-concepts approach to math.

"You can be weak in algebra, but if you're good at geometry or statistics you still can pull out a good grade," she said as she calculated the geometric changes of a fractal image called a Koch snowflake.

But relying on a mastery of one math discipline to overcome a weakness in another did not help thousands of Georgia students last year. Nearly half of Georgia's sophomores failed Math II. Test scores were so poor that the state Board of Education recently introduced Math III support classes so struggling students could relearn concepts from previous courses while still earning credits.

AIKEN COUNTY

In Aiken County, administrators also have been keying in on math. In the past year, officials have implemented initiatives to beef up curriculum to keep students ahead of state standards. After several years of testing pupils in third through eighth grades with a Measures of Academic Progress accountability test, several areas, including math curriculum, stood out.

In the past year, third-grade math and the transition to eighth- and ninth-grade algebra have been the focus. Michele Conner, Aiken County's elementary education director, said that after a dip in third-grade math scores on the Palmetto Assessment of State Standards, teachers have started finding new ways to teach without the textbook. The current South Carolina third-grade text was introduced last year.

"There are no new textbooks this year, but we're changing the mindset so the textbook is just one resource," she said.

Second-grade teachers are also being encouraged to take their teaching past state requirements so their pupils are prepared for third-grade content, Conner said.

The district has also created an Algebra Institute with instructors from the University of South Carolina Aiken and Aiken Technical College to ensure that eighth- and ninth-graders are prepared for high school math and can have smoother transitions into college.

Another change includes swapping end-of-course test science requirements from physical science to biology. Students are required to pass English 1, Algebra 1, a science and U.S. history to graduate. Area 5 District Superintendent Randy Stowe said students already enrolled in physical science will be grandfathered into the new requirements.

COLUMBIA COUNTY

In Columbia County, support classes in math are being offered in the form of power periods -- 30-minute classes during the school day for students to receive remediation or enrichment. The school system also offers students computer programs designed to address their particular deficits, and instructional coaches help educators better teach the concepts.

Rose Carraway, the system's director of high school student learning, said that such innovative methods helped 82 percent of last year's Math II students in Columbia County pass the class. Though Carraway admits that teachers first struggled to implement the new math curriculum, she believes it's a necessary change to better prepare students for college and the work force.

"The kids have to think (problems) through and determine what math (discipline) applies to them," she said. "It's not just number-crunching anymore."

For instance, fractals are math concepts often used in computer programming and broadcasting, Belcher said. The new curriculum, she said, places more emphasis on statistics, which she believes were neglected in the former curriculum.

RICHMOND COUNTY

Tougher math standards are also applying in Richmond County, where math has been a tough subject lately. The most recent AYP results showed that six of nine middle schools missed AYP only in math and that all but one elementary school missed AYP only in math. Richmond County schools have partnered with Augusta State University's math department to provide content courses for math teachers.

Dr. Shelly Allen, Richmond County mathematics coordinator, said that because there is a more common lesson plan for math at the high school level this year, there is more collaboration on lesson planning among teachers. She said data are being used at a greater level to identify students in need of extra math instruction.

Comments (14) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
disssman
6
Points
disssman 08/23/10 - 05:55 am
0
0
Well the kid finally got a

Well the kid finally got a 850 page math text book for his junior year at Crosscreek. It was only 2 weeks late and is in fact the first text book since the ninth grade. Is it any wonder why we are having trouble? I hope the rest of Georgia isn't running their schools like our wonderful RCBOE. By the way the text book (850 pages) and accompanying homework book (also 850 pages) will require at least the completion of 5 pages each per day with absolutely no relooking at previous instructions. Again that is 5 pages of instructions in a 45 minute time frame. I doubt the teachers will have time to read the text to the kids in class in that time. It would appear that we didn't buy quality we bought by weight. Folks if we don't get rid of the uneducated and ill equiped ash and trash we are electing, we are headed down a very steep slope.

MajorPaul
0
Points
MajorPaul 08/23/10 - 06:16 am
0
0
Might be a good idea if the

Might be a good idea if the kids in Richmond County actually had a math book they could take home with them and study.
All the text books have to stay in the class room. Money issues, you see.

csrareader
1283
Points
csrareader 08/23/10 - 06:32 am
0
0
The article's writers and Ms.

The article's writers and Ms. Carraway fail to mention a very important point. The Math III Support class in Columbia County will not be recognized by many four-year colleges. As a result, the students who are taking Math III Support this year will not have the four Math credits required for acceptance into many colleges and universities. In effect, Georgia is allowing the students to take Math III twice -- this year in a Math III Support class, and next year in the regular Math III class. Although the Georgia Department of Education is modifying high school graduation requirements this year and next to allow the students to earn a high school diploma, that will not help students when they apply for college. Are we really helping students when we handicap their ability to get into college?

cleanup
0
Points
cleanup 08/23/10 - 06:44 am
0
0
This is the dumbest idea in

This is the dumbest idea in years. Whatever educrat came up with this poppycock is responsible for the fact that Georgia kids will have a much poorer grasp of math than most of the country (not that we were all that swift before this change). As poorly as some of our students perform, our state and local school educrats perform worst, nearly criminally stealing education from the kids while they rake in money. Sickening.

Little Lamb
43827
Points
Little Lamb 08/23/10 - 07:58 am
0
0
The intrepid Chronicle team

The intrepid Chronicle team wrote:

This year, Math III was introduced to 11th-graders as part of a seven-year process to revolutionize math instruction in Georgia middle and high schools. Where math classes once were delineated by a particular discipline, such as algebra or geometry, courses now combine them. But relying on a mastery of one math discipline to overcome a weakness in another did not help thousands of Georgia students last year. Nearly half of Georgia's sophomores failed Math II. Test scores were so poor that the state Board of Education recently introduced Math III support classes so struggling students could relearn concepts from previous courses while still earning credits.

I would submit that the approach of Math I, Math II, Math III and Math IV is inferior to the traditional approach of Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, and Trigonometry. The test scores show it, but the educrats have been brainwashed and are pasting a band-aid called Math III Support over their boo-boo.

PWRSPD
0
Points
PWRSPD 08/23/10 - 12:57 pm
0
0
Aaaa,make it easier for the

Aaaa,make it easier for the failing students.When are we going to address the real problem?Lets take the students who do good and put them somewhere separate from the slower learners so they can actually take advantage of their skills instead of sitting in class bored learning bad habits from the ones who can't/won't get it.

csrareader
1283
Points
csrareader 08/23/10 - 02:03 pm
0
0
"Lets take the students who

"Lets take the students who do good and put them somewhere separate from the slower learners so they can actually take advantage of their skills..."

Isn't that what the AP classes are all about?

PWRSPD
0
Points
PWRSPD 08/23/10 - 02:15 pm
0
0
I'm not talking about

I'm not talking about advanced students,I'm talking about the average good student.Hopefully that's about half.I think if the average good student would be more advanced if the teachers did'nt have to slow/dumb things down and have to go over things over and over.

PWRSPD
0
Points
PWRSPD 08/23/10 - 02:19 pm
0
0
I can't imagine having to

I can't imagine having to send a good kid into some of the local public schools.

csrareader
1283
Points
csrareader 08/23/10 - 02:59 pm
0
0
PWRSPD... that's a good

PWRSPD... that's a good point.

Sweet son
9682
Points
Sweet son 08/23/10 - 04:02 pm
0
0
It does really seem like

It does really seem like another watered down version of material so that students can pass!!! Our youngsters still will be ill prepared in a global market!!

johnston.cliff
2
Points
johnston.cliff 08/23/10 - 04:26 pm
0
0
The way the government

The way the government schools are progressing will lead to the note method of education.
Each student will be given a note of appreciation before graduation. If the student is able to pass the note to another student, they will win a certificate of graduation from the school.
Their education will qualify them to apply for subsidy payments in any town in the state.

csrareader
1283
Points
csrareader 08/23/10 - 07:26 pm
0
0
The Georgia Department of

The Georgia Department of Education is concerned that schools will not make Annual Yearly Progress because of beaurocratic mistakes in designing the math curriculum. It appears that the Math III Support class is their way of getting more students to "pass."

dominionfs
0
Points
dominionfs 08/24/10 - 01:27 pm
0
0
If schools are dumbed down

If schools are dumbed down much more we might as well just issue a high school diploma along with the birth certificate and save the money.

Back to Top

Top headlines

Board rejects fine arts charter school

Organizers behind a proposed fine arts charter school in Columbia County said they are optimistic state officials will approve their plan to open a school in 2015 - a plan that was unanimously ...
Search Augusta jobs