SOM Board of Ed Discusses Need to ‘Focus on Math’ Program

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Board of Education members Monday addressed concerns about math placement and curriculum. As part of a larger discussion of District Goals, specifically those emerging from the Equity and Excellence Committee, Board member Elizabeth Baker noted that she would like to see the committee “focus on math.” She noted further that with placement letters for fall math class assignments arriving now, she has “significant concerns about math placement policies.”

Specifically, Baker said that she knows that parents are requesting access to “level up” in math. She asked fellow Board members to consider “what can be done now to create opportunities [and] to respond to students and parents.” She noted, “the ability to change levels in math is somewhat a fallacy…I think it happens very rarely.”

Board member Johanna Wright concurred and offered a historical perspective. “We had ‘contract up’,” she noted. “It worked really, really well.” Under the “contract up” system, a student would have access to a higher level of math with parent signature.

Baker noted that changes, which could be made in time for fall, don’t necessarily require Board action.

Board member Beth Daugherty urged the same committee to discuss “encouraging Algebra I in eighth grade.” She explained, “Algebra I is the single criterion for college and career readiness the state looks for [here]. There can be acceleration beyond Algebra I.”

Board member Madhu Pai agreed. Earlier in the meeting, she encouraged her fellow members to work towards “challenging, vigorous, interesting curriculum.”

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