Local boards of education have some concerns about a new course of study in mathematics proposed by the state Department of Education.
The proposed math course of study is a combination of Common Core Standards and Alabama standards, and was unveiled in an online draft Oct. 31. The new standards will be presented to the state Board of Education for adoption in March, but, if approved, will not be implemented until the 2020-2021 school year.
One of the biggest changes is a proposed, accelerated pathway for seventh- and eighth-grade students that would allow them to take three years of math study in two years of middle school, according to a report from Al.com.
The state is also proposing the elimination of Algebra A and Algebra B (Algebra I), taken in ninth- and 10th-grades. Algebra I would be replaced with Intermediate Algebra with Probability, and students would have the option of taking a math lab to supplement teachings and gain assistance with the curriculum.
By accelerating the curriculum, students will have an opportunity to take courses that aren't typically offered, such as calculus, statistics and algebraic modeling.
All students will not take an accelerated pathway, however. It will be up to parents and students to decide which educational path to choose.
"The proposed changes seem to definitely impact junior high and high school students more," Walker County Schools Interim Superintendent Dr. Joel Hagood said. "We already allow for acceleration. I think the biggest concern, if there is one, would be eliminating Algebra A and B. Obviously, splitting these courses is beneficial to those who have algebraic deficiencies and slowing the curriculum is needed.
"It does often require additional teaching units, because it creates two courses from one curriculum. However, we always want to do what is best for our students to help them achieve their goals and create opportunities for post-secondary success."
Jasper City Schools Superintendent Dr. Ann Jackson added, "We are concerned about the sequence of Algebra I and geometry, as well as doing away with Algebra 1A and 1B. We believe that having Algebra 1A and 1B has helped some of our students grasp algebraic concepts when math isn't their strongest subject."
To craft the potential new curriculum, an Alabama Mathematics Committee and Task Force studied curriculum from other states, researched professional journals and took national standards into consideration.
Jackson and Hagood said they welcome a curriculum for students to take advanced courses and have encouraged faculty members to review the proposed changes.
Public comment can be made via a survey through Nov. 30 at www.surveymonkey.com/r/NHWZBX2. A draft of the new curriculum can be found at www.alsde.edu/sec/sct/COS/Forms/AllItems.aspx.
"It appears that the committee and task force worked with the end in mind, which is what they should do, by focusing on career and academic possibilities in providing additional curriculum pathways with a greater range of opportunities," Hagood said.
"Our goal is to continuously challenge our students to reach their optimum potential," Jackson said. "A push for higher achievement will not change with new standards, if adopted in March."