by Lindalyn Kakadelis
Executive Director, North Carolina Coalition for Charter Schools
Last week a school board member asked me if I knew anything about “Math Ready.” The local system made a presentation asking the board to approve adding this high school course.
“Math Ready” is endorsed by the NC Department of Public Instruction, and developed by the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB). The system’s staff said “Math Ready” is designed for students who struggled through Math I, II, and III, and not ready for a higher level mathematics course. “Ready Math” counts towards the NC high school graduation requirement, but does not count as a math course for the NC University System (currently under review by the UNC system).
When DPI changed Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II to an “integrated math” program, many folks wondered if students would be as prepared as previous years. It seems there is a major need to offer a “review” course that still may not prepare students in math.
I contacted two experts and asked their opinion of “Math Ready.”
Ze’ev Wurman is a visiting scholar with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He participated in developing California’s education standards and the state assessments in mathematics between 1995 and 2007. He is a former Senior Adviser with the US Dept of Education. Wurman said this:
“If the purpose is to use it for weak students to allow them to graduate high school, I think it may be appropriate content-wise. If the purpose is to allow kids successfully taking this course to continue to a four-year college –not necessarily in STEM –I think this course is grossly inadequate, It is sufficient, at best, for entering a 2 year community college or some vocational schools where additional remediation may take place.”
Jim Milgram is a professor of mathematics at Stanford University, and has written extensively on math standards. Dr. Milgram stated to me in an email that the course looked much like the Interactive Mathematics Program, that California threw out years ago during the “math wars.”
Between the “new” math standards in elementary school, and the “new” integrated math courses in high school, we should soon find out if this direction produces better mathematicians or simply more students in Sylvan Learning Centers and remedial courses.