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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Math thoughts for discussion this week

As this is going to be on the agenda for the admin meeting this week, we have had numerous discussions around what we are planning on doing with Math at SKSS.  Right now, it has become painfully obvious that there truly is no 'easy' math:  students will have to get their math credit through Foundations of Math 11 unless they are truly bound for the trades.  One of the ideas that we are kicking around is not to offer AW 10.  As there is the ability for students to take AW 11 without taking AW 10, and Core Math 10 leaves the most number of options open for students, it seems less important to make students make the choice in Grade 10.  Considering the fact that the resources for AW 10 seems to be less than adequate according to our teachers, it seems odd to offer it.

At the Grade 8 and 9 level, I would like to have all students take the core Math, without having adapted classes.  I just wrote a blog on some research that has come to me through Dean Coder on streaming, and the research is pretty compelling, it doesn't work.

Ability grouping of students

My initial thought:  Very mixed. It might have some benefits for certain subject areas, maybe math?

The loud, bold claim that I hear:  "Kids need to be grouped by ability so the teacher can focus on their specific needs."

What the research says:  The steaming or ability grouping factor ranks 121st out of 138, with 500  different studies done over hundreds of schools.  It has an average effect of .14, and mostly for higher achieving students.  In specific subject areas, it has almost no impact: in English, .02, and in Math ZERO effect.  But it has "profoundly negative effects" on student's feelings of equity.

My new thought:  There is no benefit to 'streaming' students in schools, and with the changes in the current Math curriculum in British Columbia, the idea of creating adapted classes for students will have more cost than benefit.

However, these are my initial thoughts after talking to seemingly everyone around our school as well as Dean and Mark. I am looking forward to what the other schools are thinking of doing.

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