Thursday, January 18, 2007

Georgia: White high school students meet math testing requirements at a rate of about 86%, but for black students, the rate is under 59%

Travis Fain:

Facing unacceptably low math scores and a "whopping" disparity between black and white students when it comes to those scores, the state is radically changing the way it teaches math, state Schools Superintendent Kathy Cox told legislators Wednesday.

Some changes are already in place, but more students will see the curriculum shift in coming years - particularly in 2008, when the changes come to Georgia high schools.

The new programs are based on Japanese models and will take an "integrated" approach to teaching math, the superintendent said during a Wednesday hearing on her department's fiscal 2008 budget.

That means "you're learning algebra as you learn other operations of math," Cox told The Telegraph after her presentation.

Cox spokesman Matt Cardoza described the new curriculum, already in place in sixth and seventh grades, as a blended one. High school classes such as algebra I, geometry and algebra II will be replaced with Math I through Math IV, he said.

By the end of high school, all students will have taken the equivalent of algebra II - a goal just 20 percent of high school seniors hit now, Cox said.

The shift was brought on by disturbing math achievement figures, which have lagged even as reading scores have increased across the state, Cox said.

For example: White high school students meet math testing requirements at a rate of about 86 percent, Cox said. For black students, the rate is under 59 percent.

Math scores among black students are the No. 1 reason Georgia schools did not meet federal standards last year, and math scores on the SAT college entrance exam are why Georgia students perform below the national average, Cox told lawmakers.

Education officials make budget pitch to lawmakers

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