Common Core reorganizes math pathways

By Daniel Ho | Photo Editor

The recent rollout of Common Core State Standards across all five high schools in Fremont changed the curriculum in many Irvington High School mathematics classes by reorganizing the mathematics pathway.

Incoming students are placed into math classes based on the eighth grade class they took. For most incoming freshmen next year, the mathematics pathway will start with Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Algebra I, followed by CCSS Geometry, CCSS Algebra II/Trigonometry, and Pre-Calculus. Classes from Pre-Calculus and above do not have a curriculum defined by the standards, so they will remain the way they are.

Common Core also introduced a new acceleration system replacing the placement test to skip Pre-Algebra. Eighth graders can test into an accelerated class combining CCSS 8 with Algebra 1. In high school, they will then take classes a year early and can end high school with AP Calculus.

According to the Irvington High School principal, Ms. Sarah Smoot, there is one last opportunity for students starting in Algebra I to take Calculus in twelfth grade planned to start in two years. Incoming freshmen can possibility test into an accelerated eleventh grade schedule consisting of both Algebra II/Trigonometry and Pre-Calculus.

“Students need to have achieved As in every class leading up to [eleventh grade], for all semesters. There may even be a proficiency test.” said Principal Smoot.

Students who are advanced in math would want to take calculus in high school, but Smoot notes that doubling up on math classes to do so may not be in the best interest of students.

“It requires additional work, which is difficult to handle especially in the eleventh grade. It’s already on top of a lot, and will reduce an elective class which sometimes is the break a brain needs.” she said.

Irvington has more elective classes than any other school in the district, and due to a limited number of sections, each additional math or science class will take one away for an elective offering. The proposed acceleration would also break the limit of one math and science class before senior year.

“Irvington wants students to have balance in their lives,” Ms. Smoot said, “We will advocate at the district for strict criteria for accelerating, and then we are going to hold very tight to that strict criteria. You know that Irvington has a very academically competitive environment. We worry about students overcommitting to things, so we want to encourage the balance.”