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The Algebra Debate: State’s Lawmakers Want Option for Traditional High School Math Sequence

The Algebra Debate: State’s Lawmakers Want Option for Traditional High School Math Sequence

The debate over the integrated math curriculum implemented under Common Core Standards is on center stage in the North Carolina Senate where legislators have proposed that schools offer students the option to take the traditional sequence of Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II.

After failing to ban integrated math, the latest proposal suggests that schools offer students both curricula options.

North Carolina has been teaching integrated math since adopting the Common Core Standards in 2012. The approach differs from the traditional sequence in that it teaches Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II in blended courses over three years as opposed to separately.

Many states have also adopted the change, supported by many math education researchers who say the blended approach better prepares students for college and career as well as a competitive global environment.

Proponents of integrated math argue that separating Algebra and Geometry in America’s high schools is an outdated method that forces the country’s students to lag behind in math. Opponents, on the other hand, argue that the abrupt switch to integrated math confuses both students and teachers.

(Read this educator’s argument that updating math standards is useless without aligned materials and thoughtful structure.)

In North Carolina, a lack of funding attached to the proposal means that schools and teachers would be on their own when deciding which math track to select.

While legislators in support of the bill said it will give schools the ultimate option in deciding what is right for students, many educators and administrators are skeptical that the change will require teachers to spend an excessive amount of time preparing for class while schools will likely have to add more teachers to adjust.

According to WUNC, this is the second time in a matter of months that North Carolina lawmakers have sparred over integrated math in its schools.

"In December 2015, members of a commission appointed by the General Assembly brought more than a year of work vetting the Common Core standards to a close. In a split vote, the commission decided to keep the integrated math sequence,” WUNC said.

Educators, weigh-in: traditional or integrated math? Take our poll below. 

Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

6/9/2016

Traditional or integrated math?

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