Pathways Through the Common Core

I recently joined a conversation on Twitter about pathways through the Common Core State Standards and potentially-shifting opportunities for advanced students. It seems I’m not alone in wondering how a transition to the CCSSM will play out in our actual classrooms and departments.

I teach in a very small math department (two members for the entire 7-12 program), so I am particularly curious to know how debates are unfolding and plans are taking shape in other school districts (like yours!).

For districts both large and small, I imagine it would be helpful to know the questions others are grappling with, as well as the solutions they’re proposing to the many challenges that will arise as we make this transition. If you’re interested in adding your voice to the conversation, drop a line in the comments describing as many of the following as you please:

  1. Your district’s intended approach (traditional vs. integrated)
  2. Timeline (and other relevant details) for your transition
  3. A link to a course sequence/pathway (if you have one), or a list of the options students have at each grade level
  4. Plans for acceleration (i.e., what to do with/for your students who want/need/deserve to be challenged)
  5. Plans for remediation (i.e., what to do with/for your students who struggle to the point of failure in one or more classes)
  6. Concerns and challenges
  7. Other random insights
  8. Lingering questions
  9. Whatever else comes to mind

Since I’m not interested in highlighting our approach as anything worthy of emulation, I’ll share my school’s plans, questions, and so forth, in the comments.

Thanks in advance to all who chime in!

Comments 5

  1. 1. Integrated (thrilled at the opportunity to use this approach, and glad many neighboring school districts are shifting to integrated pathway as well)

    2. No changes for 2013-2014. Shift everything to CCSSM in 2014-2015. (I’ll be doing a lot of the legwork required for the transition during Summer 2013 as well as the 2013-2014 school year.)

    3a. Current sequence:

    3b. Proposed CCSSM sequence:

    No shiny handout at this time, but here’s the latest version of the plan:

    Math A (Grade 7 CCSSM)

    Math B (Grade 8 CCSSM)

    Math 1 (“Grade 9” CCSSM as suggested by this:

    Math 2 (“Grade 10” CCSSM as suggested by this:
    Math 2 Honors (same as Math 2, with relevant (+) STEM standards included)

    Math 3 (“Grade 11” CCSSM as suggested by this:
    Math 3 Honors (same as Math 3, with relevant (+) STEM standards included)

    AP Calculus AB (BC is not an option due to size and strength of student body)
    AP Statistics

    4. I have some major and medium-sized questions related to accelerating advanced students. There is a raging debate in my mind about whether to start all 7th grade students in a single-flavor Math A, offer 7th graders a regular and honors section of Math A, or allow advanced students to begin the sequence (in 7th grade) in Math B. I’d love to hear what others think about these three (and other) options. (Is there something we can do in 5th and/or 6th grade to provide our most motivated and able students with an opportunity to begin 7th grade in Math B?)

    5. Word on the street is that repeating courses is of little or no value to students, suggesting that “holding students back” if they don’t earn a sufficient grade in a course is a bad policy. I have trouble reconciling that with the reality that some of my students are terribly lazy and do not deserve to pass, while others are mathematically so far behind that they have almost no shot at being successful in the next course in the sequence. Couple that with the fact that my school cannot offer supplemental support courses (due to our small size), and I’m at a loss. Help?

    6. As a member of a small department, I’m intimidated by the sheer amount of work ahead of us, and therefore very interested in collaborating with others in designing and building a strong 7-12 mathematics program. From course sequences to course outlines to actual curriculum to assessments, if there is any way I can help others in this transition, I’m all for it!

    7. Nope, sorry.

    8a. Our plan is to offer honors versions of Math 2 and Math 3. This is where we’ll include some, most, or all of the (+) standards so that students are ready for AP Calculus after completing Math 3. We’re not sure whether to offer an honors version of Math 1. Our school culture almost demands it. (Some parents REALLY, REALLY, REALLY like their students to take honors classes, and in some cases it may have as much to do with the honors distinction as it does with the course content.) If we do offer an honors version of Math 1, and we spread some of the (+) standards into this class, then student “mobility” ONTO the honors class would become dramatically more difficult than our current “tracked” system (which allows for students to join the honors track at any point in the sequence). If we do offer an honors version of Math 1, we could simply go deeper with the standards addressed in that class so that students who take regular Math 1 would be able to take Math 2 Honors the following year, Math 3 Honors the year after that, and then Calculus after that.

    8b. Extend that line of thinking down to middle school, and help me think about whether we should offer honors versions of Math A (Grade 7 CCSSM) and Math B (Grade 8 CCSSM). What are the implications of offering honors sections of these courses? What are the implications of NOT offering honors at these levels?

    8c. Is there something we can do in 6th grade to support

    9. My mind is empty. Or tired. Or both. 🙂

    I hope you’ll share in my confusion by adding a comment! If enough of us add our half-baked ideas, we might end up with a coherent whole.

  2. 1. Traditional
    2. There is some weird stuff going on right now in PA. About a week ago, there was an article about how CC implementation is being delayed. The next day, another article said that it’s not being delayed, but there is some question as to whether or not we will use the national CC standards or a state-alterated version. This is all very frustrating for those of us who would like to know what we’re teaching next year.
    3. Currently, some 7th graders are placed in an Algebra 1A course, to be followed by 1B in 8th grade. From there they go: Alg 2, Geo, Pre-Calc/Trig/ AP Calc. They also have the option of AP Prob & Stat. Everyone else follows a similar strand, but they start in 8th grade.
    4. No plans to change anything for advanced students are in the works.
    5. In high school, students who fail must repeat. In middle school, students must fail 3 of their major subjects to repeat (or attend summer school). This means that there are a significant number of students who fail math one year, but since they didn’t fail 3 subjects, they move up to the next math course anyway.
    6. Concerns: Teachers don’t understand the intent of the CC. They will continue to teach in a traditional manner which focuses on memorization and procedures. We are also not given ample time to transition to the new standards. Because of this shift, there are topics that some students will never be formally introduced to.

    I like your idea of sharing curricula. Where do we start?

    By the way, you’re doing an awesome job with this blog Michael. Great reflections!

    Thanks, Nathan

  3. I’d like to start off by saying that I’m also in a very small district (3 math teachers from 6-12).

    1. We’re using the Integrated Math system (Core Plus). It’s a struggle getting parents on board, but it’s a worthwhile system.

    2. Currently unsure on this one. It depends on how quickly Iowa’s debate in the legislature gets done.

    8th grade: 8th grade Math
    9th grade: General Math or Math 1 (will have to do a separate track for the Gen Math kids if we want it to be able to cover the entire Core)
    10th grade: Math 2
    11th grade: Math 3 or Applied Math
    12th grade: Advanced Math (essentially pre-calc) or AP Calculus

    4. These students skip a grade at the middle school level currently.

    5. These students currently have to repeat the semester that they failed (not the whole year) either online through e2020 (not sure if this will last) or back in the same classroom.

    6. I’m concerned mostly about doing all this work and then having it fall apart in the next few years. Though that’s really a little bit jaded.

    7. Nothing beyond the idea that SBG basically is easily tailored for something like this so I can at least use that argument with every teacher I encounter in my district since I’m the only one currently using it.

    8. I don’t currently have a whole lot. I’d like to know how to make assessments for these so students have some inkling what to expect since it’s vastly different than what they have done in the past.

  4. Sorry I don’t have a whole lot to contribute now, but I just want to drop in to tell you how much I appreciate the conversations on this (this extension from Twitter). There are only 2.5 math teachers at our junior high. Currently students have 2 periods of math a day; this might change next year, back to 1 period.

    Quick attempts at the questions:

    1) leaning toward integrated
    2) personally I’ve made slight transitions this year, but full implementation 2014-15
    3) no new sequence
    4) currently have geometry for 8th graders
    5) remediation starts in grade 6 is plan for next year
    6) concerned about a lot of things that’s why I’m trying to learn what others are doing

    Thanks, Michael!

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