Freshmen at High School who are not ready for a regular algebra class will get a kind of bonus next year: extra time in math class.
Students who up until now have been signed up for a two-year Introduction to Algebra/Sophomore Algebra sequence now will take the one-year, one-and-a-half period Algebra 1 Extended Class.
At the same time, freshmen at High School who are not ready for any high-school level math will be registered in Core Math, a class designed to help address individual math deficiencies and prepare them for later high school math classes. Because the material covered is generally considered to be at the elementary or middle school level, it will not count as a high school math credit. It will offer an elective credit, to help keep students on track to graduate in time.
Both proposals were presented by Barbara Dill-Varga, assistant superintendent for curriculum.
Courses will help kids catch up to high school level
The goal of both new courses is to help students get on track for later success, according to Maine South Principal Shawn Messmer and Maine West Principal Audrey Haugan.
At Maine South, only about 35 percent of students who take the two-year algerbra sequence as freshmen and sophomores meet or exceed state standards on the Prairie State Achievement Exam as juniors, according to a memo to school board members. More than 95 percent of juniors who had reached Algebra 2 by junior year met or exceeded state standards.
Designing a course that would allow freshmen who need extra help to complete Algebra I in one year will allow them to take geometry as sophomores and Algebra 2 as juniors, thus covering all of the material on the PSAE before they have to take the exam, according to the memo.
Kids not heeding advice to take summer school
At Maine West – which already offers an extended algebra class – there is roughly one class section of students coming in each year who are not ready for any high school math, Haugan told the board in a memo. Those students receive a strong recommendation to enroll in a summer school class to help them prepare, but in recent years, the majority of them have not done so, and end up failing in math. Of the relative handful who remain enrolled at Maine West as seniors, many are taking two math classes just to graduate, Haugan said.
While students who take this class likely would not be eligible for Algebra 2 as juniors, they could take it as seniors and thus cover enough math to be considered college-ready, she said.
Haugan also said she expects the need for the course to diminish over the next few years as District 207 works with its sender elementary districts to help them make sure that incoming students are ready for high school. Because it may not be needed in the near future, it was approved as a pilot course to be evaluated at the end of the year.