I am not, nor have I ever been a fan of the way the GPS was implemented. However, I have larger qualms with the sequencing of the topics in the middle grade mathematics curriculum.

The math curriculum was rolled out in middle school and because of this the 6th grade mathematics curriculum has, at last count, 11 units. I was told that this was done to bridge the massive gap that exists between elementary school and middle school....but I digress.

I understand the need to move some of the traditional high school topics down to the middle school level...however...wouldn't it be better if the 3 grades were broken into specific mathematics domains...giving the students a full year to master the skills that are necessary to move on.

I think 6th grade should only focus on number and operations and measurement. Doing this would allow the students that somehow made it out of elementary school without being able to perform the four arithmetic operations to strengthen those skills with fractions, decimals, integers, and all other rational numbers. 6th graders can handle exponents, squares, and square roots, etc. I know...because when I taught 6th grade last year I :squeezed" some of those topics in to see how the kids would perform.

7th grade should be a true pre-algebra experience focusing on evaluating algebraic expressions, the Pythagorean theorem, volume, area, surface area, similar figures, proportionality, and translating phrases to expressions.

8th grade should just focus on algebra and those algebra 2 concepts that have been pushed down.

Sequencing in this manner will, as I said earlier, allow the students to master the skills in a logical manner rather than hopping around from domain to domain in an effort to cover everything before the CRCT.

What say you fellow GA math teachers ?

(by the way...we can skip the data strands altogether...you get into that in stats classes later on anyway)

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Tags: algebra., and, crct, geometry, georgia, gps, math, middle, number, operations, More…school

Comment by Mitch Coley on February 25, 2009 at 8:49am
I'm not sure that I agree or disagree with your post. I understand the need to be able to teach to mastery, and there are definitely time constraints due to the vast array and amount of standards that students are expected to learn in a year. At the same time, the standards are spiraled such that, if taught correctly, the students should work from a low level to high level understanding of the content throughout their middle school years.

Mastery is the biggest issue that we face. If the standards were sequenced year to year, we'd definitely be able to focus on mastery. The way it is now, some students will reach mastery but many will not simply because it is going to take them more time. And you can only remediate so much before a student's lack of mastery for past standards prevents them from learning future standards.

On a side,but similar note, all of the performance tasks on the DOE are impossible to do in a single school year unless the students are fully competent in that area. It could be argued that the vast amounts of performance tasks are available for differentiation, but it seems a good idea for students to be able to work through most, if not all of them. Sequencing might be the only way to develop the mastery to a level that all peformance tasks can be completed.

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