Next year, Nashville public schools will begin the transition from teaching Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II to teaching integrated math courses, which weave together concepts from each discipline.
The 82,000-student district announced the switch last week and is planning on holding parent meetings to clarify the move. The district’s website says that “with integrated math, students are held to the same standards and expected to master the same mathematical concepts but in a different order.”
As explained in our recent special report, integrated math is not exactly a novel concept—but it’s gotten renewed attention under the Common Core State Standards. The standards lay out both the traditional and integrated approaches for teaching high school mathematics and suggest schools choose one.
Here’s what the two models look like (via the standards’ Appendix A):
In a recent EdWeek online chat on the topic, Paul Stevenson, math chair at an Illinois high school, explained that prior to high school, all math courses are integrated. The Nashville district website makes the point as well: “First graders don’t go to Addition class and Subtraction class,” it states. “They go to math class. Integrated math gives students a consistent teaching and learning style from kindergarten to graduation.”
At least three states—North Carolina, West Virginia, and Utah—have recently mandated that all public high schools use integrated math.
Georgia has technically been using integrated math since 2008—but it hasn’t been popular. Nearly 85 percent of Georgia teachers participating in a recent survey administered by the state’s board of education said they would rather be teaching the traditional pathway than the integrated one.
And there’s a chance some Georgia teachers may soon get their way. The state’s new schools superintendent, Richard Woods, has said he’d like districts to choose which approach to high school mathematics they take. The Chattanooga Times Free Press, which covers parts of Georgia, reports the state board will vote on that change in February.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.