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W.Va. Schools Ponder Math Classes

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W.Va. Schools Ponder Math Classes
By JOSELYN KING Staff Writer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING - Educators across West Virginia are adding up whether new standards for high school mathematics under Common Core are effective, or if a new sequence for the curriculum is needed in the equation.

Currently high schools offer Math 1, 2 and 3 classes that integrate the concepts previously taught in algebra, geometry and trigonometry classes - a change specified under new common core standards. But the West Virginia Department of Education has given school districts the option of offering a new system of math classes that once again structures the teaching of mathematical concepts differently.

Classes under the new system would revert to once again being called "algebra," "geometry" and "trigonometry," but schools choosing this program won't be abandoning integrated math or the Common Core standards to return to traditional math subjects, said Betty Jo Jordan, executive assistant to State Schools Superintendent Michael Martirano.

"If they want to reorganize, these are the same standards - they will just be packaging them differently," she said. "They will not be going against the standards of Common Core, but organizing them differently."

Brooke County Schools was the only school district in the Northern Panhandle to inform the state that it would be switching to the new math instruction standards.

Valerie Smith, curriculum director for grades 6 to 12 in Brooke County, said the school district was in no way returning to the teaching of traditional math subjects, and the new program still contains integrated math subjects.

"My math teachers felt it made more sense in the order in which the concepts were presented," she said. "It's still Common Core based. It just aligns the content standards in a different sequence."

Smith said the new program focuses more in teaching math principles through application.

"They are asking students to apply what they learned, and the math concepts are more relevant to them," she said.

Marshall County Superintendent Michael Hince said his district opted to stay with the initial integrated math curriculum started this year.

"We have been using it, and decided we wouldn't turn back early," he said. "We have to have results to see if it's successful. ... We're not unhappy with it, but we haven't been doing it long enough to know if it is successful. But we think it is a good program."

In Ohio County, school Superintendent Dianna Vargo said current math curriculum wouldn't be changed.

"Our teachers have noted significant gains using the integrated strategies that prepare students for future academics and a career," she said.

Wetzel and Tyler county school officials indicated they also would continue to teach the initial integrated math curriculum, while Hancock County Schools couldn't be reached for comment.