By John Fensterwald
In moving to the Common Core State Standards this year, California school districts had to choose between serving up high school math as one big stew or as the curricular equivalent of separate courses. That option has created strong, sometimes passionate disagreements among parents and teachers who argue that a blended or “integrated” approach offers a clearer method of instruction and those who prefer sticking with a familiar sequence of courses. The latter group includes high-achieving districts in Silicon Valley.
A second look at accelerationThe adoption of Common Core and switch to local control have renewed the debate on when students should accelerate to take Calculus in high school and who should take advanced courses. See accompanying article.
In the “traditional” sequence, Algebra I will be taught in 9th grade, followed by Geometry, then Algebra II in the junior year, leading to pre-calculus, Advanced Placement statistics, or, if students are more advanced, Calculus in their senior year. In “integrated” math, as the name implies, the same standards for algebra, geometry, trigonometry and statistics are reassembled and woven together to show their interrelationships in three yearly courses of increasing difficulty. Proponents are also calling this Mathematics I, II, and III or International I, II and III, because, they point out, math is taught this way in most high performing nations.