Beginning with this year’s freshman class, students will no longer take math courses like Algebra and Geometry. Instead they will take Integrated Math courses that blend topics like of algebra, geometry and statistics at each level.
Each of the three years of Integrated Math include concepts from traditional courses at increasingly more complex levels. In addition, the new courses are more interactive and involve more writing.
“This year we’re doing more geometry, statistics, writing, and less algebra,” said math teacher Dag Friedman.
The change is aligned with the new Common Core State Standards, which emphasize critical thinking.
The standards demand that students not only solve problems, but show more of their work and explain what they did at each step to get the answer, according to math teacher Tristen Billerbeck.
The goal is for students to do better at understanding the concepts they are learning and not just the steps in solving a problem. The new courses also aim to show students how math is applied in other subjects areas and in life outside school.
“One reason that we are changing the math is because the students were doing great in class but once you ask them a real life problem they would go brain dead,” Billerbeck said. “We are trying to make the kids think more.”
The course demands more of students, said math teacher Maria Luz Ledesma. But students aren’t the only ones who will be working harder.
“Integrated Math 1 requires more background work from the teachers” to help students make see connection, Ledesma said.
The district will introduce Math 2 in high school next year and Math 3 the year after that. There will also be accelerated classes at the Math 2 and 3 levels. Integrated Math 3 leads to Precalculus, while Integrated Math 3+ gives students the option of going directly into Calculus
Integrated math has been the norm in other countries for many years and has long been the curriculum in some American schools and districts. Common Core has led to its adoption across the country.
The three Integrated Math 1 teachers all agreed that it is too soon to say if the new approach is better than the traditional curriculum.