Math Reform Hits North Carolina’s Triangle Schools

Students in the ‘Triangle High Five’ schools could see their Algebra I, Algebra II and Geometry classes scrapped as the school board looks to reform the way math is taught, proposing tougher and more in-depth courses, writes T. Keung Hui at the News Observer.

Triangle High Five, a group led by the superintendents in Wake, Durham, Orange and Johnston counties and Chapel Hill-Carrboro, says that next year students will begin learning from a new statewide math curriculum based on the Common Core.

“It wouldn’t be your mother’s, or father’s or grandparents’ Algebra I,” said Rodney Trice, executive director for curriculum and instruction for Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools, who are the first of the districts to discuss the new math curriculum.

“It’s changing because of the additional content.”

North Carolina is one of 45 states that has adopted the Common Core as a set of consistent, national education standards in math and language arts.

As part of this, Triangle High Five is proposing the reform of their math courses — and renaming the programs Common Core Math I, II and III — which officials say will promote consistency should students move between the districts.

Rebecca Garland, chief academic officer at the state Department of Public Instruction, said most officials expect the majority of districts will keep with the standard course titles because that’s what parents are familiar with.

An accelerated curriculum that would let most students take three years of middle school math in two years has also been proposed by administrators.

As part of that plan, eighth-graders will be allowed to take a high school math course to pave the way for honors courses in high school. This is already being developed by Chapel Hill county; whether other counties will follow is unclear.

Ruth Steidinger, Wake County’s senior director for middle school programs, said through a spokesperson that she will meet with Superintendent Tony Tata to discuss the math sequences.

School administrators in Durham and Wake say they expect to present the Triangle High Five proposal to their school boards in January.