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home : news : news Tuesday, May 24, 2016

1/12/2013 Email this articlePrint this article 
Northeast board to vote on increasing math requirements

By Jeremy Huss
Staff writer

The Northeast Community School Board will vote Tuesday night, Jan. 15, on a proposal requiring high school students to take four years of math coursework instead of the current three years.

The change would require students to earn eight credits of math and 50 total credits in order to graduate and also would entail adding a new math course for students planning careers in a technical field.

The new requirements would take effect for next year's high school freshmen, the class of 2017, and would put math on the same par as language arts, which also requires eight credits for graduation.

Secondary school principal Alicia Christiansen presented the proposal for curriculum and graduation requirement changes at a special meeting of the Northeast board Jan. 9.

Christiansen outlined state expectations for math programs based on the Iowa Core Curriculum.

The Iowa Core requires schools to focus on eight categories of mathematical practices: making sense of problems, reasoning abstractly and quantitatively, constructing viable arguments and critiquing the reasoning of others, modeling with mathematics, using appropriate tools strategically, being precise, looking and making use of structure and looking for and expressing regularity in repeated reasoning.

"These practices and standards are meant to drive home the concept of learning the curricular objective a mile deep, not a mile wide," Christiansen stated in a PowerPoint presentation.

"It is no longer about rote memorization, as many of us were taught; it is about engaging the students in tasks that force them to justify, defend and model their thinking," Christiansen stated.

Christiansen worked with elementary principal/curriculum director Diane Schumacher, alternative school principal Gregg Mohl and the secondary school math team to develop the recommendation for increasing math requirements.

Under the proposal, all students will be required to complete four years of courses that include algebra, geometry and algebra II.

Students will have a choice of math courses in their senior year depending on which track of the math program they are on and their future plans.

"They'll be taking it for four years, with the fourth year being optional based on the future plans of the student," Christiansen said.

Options for senior-year courses will be algebra II, statistics, pre-calculus, calculus and technical math.

The proposed changes also would result in the accelerated math program starting one year earlier in middle school, with students being assessed for the accelerated track in sixth grade and beginning the program in seventh grade.

Students currently are assessed in seventh grade for an accelerated math program that begins in eighth grade

Currently, 56 percent of high school seniors (40 of 71 students) are taking math in their final year at Northeast.

School board president Chuck Corr said board members are "very supportive" of the proposal to increase math requirements.

Corr said students have stated in the past more math would benefit them educationally, and the proposal has the support of district staff and administrators.

"We all felt it was a good idea," Corr said.

Corr said board members also were "quite enthusiastic" to see the inclusion of a technical math course. Many Northeast graduates in recent years have gone on to pursue technical degrees.

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