New Algebra Course To Aid Common Core Transition

by Steve Brawner ([email protected]) 46 views 

Educators in Arkansas are developing a Bridge to Algebra II course to help high school students caught in the transition to the Common Core curriculum, but they may need legislative help to make it work.

Arkansas, along with 44 other states, has been involved in a multi-year process of adopting the Common Core curriculum in English language arts and math. The curriculum already has been introduced into the lower grades and will be introduced into high school next year.

As a rule, the curriculum covers less subjects than the current one, but it covers them at a deeper level. Some concepts covered in the Common Core’s Algebra I class were not part of Arkansas’ current Algebra I.

That presents a problem for students caught in the transition next year who would be expected to do Common Core Algebra II work after taking the current Algebra I class.

According to Tracy Tucker, Arkansas Department of Education director of curriculum and instruction, the yearlong Bridge to Algebra II course covers those subjects. Those include a reinforcement of linear concepts, which are graphs of lines on an X-Y axis. They also include quadratic concepts, which involve parabolas on graphs; and exponential concepts, which chart when change occurs exponentially. A real world example would be the point at which the population of a certain animal begins increasing rapidly.

By law, students must graduate with four high school-level math credits as part of the Smart Core curriculum, which is required for the Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship. Those classes are Algebra I, geometry, Algebra II, and a fourth class more advanced than Algebra II such as calculus or trigonometry. Geometry follows Algebra I in many districts.

Tucker said that, unless that law is changed, students taking the Bridge to Algebra II course may have to take five math courses in four years to graduate with a Smart Core designation.

To prevent that from happening, many districts this year have moved Algebra II to the year following Algebra I. Those students will complete all of their algebra requirements under the current Arkansas curriculum.

The Bridge to Algebra II course was developed by math educators across the state and is expected to exist only two or three years during this transitional period.

However, Tucker said the course could be modified later to help students struggling to understand Algebra II concepts.