Frequently Asked Questions About the WPS Math Program
Q: What changes are being made to the WPS Math Program?
A: To achieve improved learning outcomes in math for all students, WPS plans to implement program changes in three areas: curriculum and instruction, instructional time and the math course sequence. The changes include:
- Continue to revise curriculum units K-12 to achieve vertical alignment and focus on the major work of each grade and course. Supplement Math in Focus curricular materials with additional resources.
- Continue to provide coaching support for teachers to change instructional practices and build teacher content knowledge to support student growth.
- Provide one hour of protected instructional time for math K-5 and schedule additional instructional time for math in grades 6-8. In order to provide additional time at WHS, develop an AIM-like program to support students enrolled in level 1 classes.
- Adopt the proposed math course sequence changes for grades 6-12 to ensure students have the necessary foundational skills to be successful in high school math while offering additional course acceleration pathways for students who demonstrate mastery of foundational content, problem-solving skills and are ready to tackle more rigorous math content.
More detailed information can be found on the WPS website using the following link WPS Math Program Update website
Q: When will these changes be implemented?
A: Beginning in the 2019-20 school year, one level of Math 6 will be offered. Each year following the introduction of the new Math 6 course, the new Math 7 and Pre Algebra 7 will be introduced in 2020-21 followed by the introduction of Pre Algebra 8 and Algebra I in grade 8 in 2021-22. Both Algebra I/Geometry and 3-in-2 Geometry/Algebra II/PreCalculus will be introduced in 2022-23. The phased in implementation ensures adequate time to develop the new courses, monitor their success and revise the new courses as needed. The timeline for implementing these changes will require five years to phase in.
Q: What opportunities will my child have to take advanced math courses?
A: The new math course sequence enables students to develop necessary foundation skills so that students will have additional opportunities to take advanced math courses in high school. The new course sequence maintains existing math course choices in grades 11 & 12 and provides three acceleration opportunities for students who have demonstrated mastery of prerequisite content. They include a condensed Algebra I/Geometry course (new), a condensed two-year Geometry, Algebra II, Precalculus course (3-in-2, also new) and doubling up by taking Geometry and Algebra II in grade 10 (exists currently).
Q: How can the needs of advanced students and struggling students be met in one 6th grade class
A: Our approach to acceleration has relied on skimming over or skipping content primarily in grade 6. This practice results in learning gaps for students that become greater over time. Even students who appear successful in an accelerated course miss out on a deeper understanding of foundational content. With one grade 6 course, teachers will be better able to plan for and incorporate materials that enable students experience different levels of challenge or support within the the same class.
Often students excel in some areas of math but not others. For example, a student who is good at computation with fractions, may struggle in geometry. One level of math enables teachers to meet the needs of students across a range of content. By identifying where students are (using pre-assessments and frequent formative assessments) teachers can target the learning needs of their students.
Why is this better than a leveled class? The needs of students who are ready for enrichment quickly can be addressed with problems and experiences that stretch their understanding. Resources are readily available to build into lessons. At the same time, the needs of struggling students can be met with learning experiences targeting their needs and small group instruction.
Q: How will the new math courses impact recommendations for science classes at WHS?
A: There will be no impact on recommendations for science classes. At the high school, students who enroll in Chemistry are encouraged to be co-enrolled or have completed Algebra II. This is not a requirement. Math skills necessary for success in Chemistry are all taught in Algebra I or earlier. The only exception is logarithms which are often taught toward the end of the year in Algebra II and typically don’t precede the introduction of the aligned chemistry content. Science teachers address the use of logarithms in their classes. Math course recommendations should not be overridden to accommodate enrollment in a science course.
Q: How will these changes impact the course placement process for math at the middle school and high school?
A: The proposed condensed and accelerated courses are designed to address the needs of students when they are developmentally and academically ready to take these courses. The current course recommendation practice does not ensure that students enroll in courses they are ready to take. We recommend developing a rational course placement process that is based on multiple data trends that may include standardized test results, course grades (from common unit assessments using consistent grading practices), and internally developed validation exams. This process could provide for an appeal procedure but final placement decisions for mathematics should be made by the district.