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NC changing the way high school students learn math

NC changing the way high school students learn math

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North Carolina is changing the way high school students learn math with a state-wide overhaul that’s more rigorous, and at first, a bit complicated.

The new system kicked off this school year as part of our state’s Common Core Curriculum standards. It’s transforming the classroom and kicking textbooks to the curb.

"The rigor level has increased and this is to make our kids more globally competitive and college and career ready,” says Ashley Padgett, 6-12 curriculum coordinator for Beaufort County Schools.

"It's the same curriculum, we just organized it in a different way,” explains Washington High School math teacher Heather Scott.

Here’s how it works: Traditionally, a typical high school student would enroll in Algebra 1, then Geometry, followed by Algebra 2, and perhaps an advanced math during his/her senior year.

Now those courses are obsolete and three new classes will take their place: Math I, Math II and Math III.

Each class will contain elements of all math subjects from the get-go and each year teachers will re-enforce key concepts at higher levels. Eventually, they will also weave in other subjects like statistics and probability.  

"Each course is a building block to the next course, so students are more successful and they retain a lot more information,” Scott says.

The changes mean traditional textbooks have a new home: in the storage closet.

"There used to be a textbook for Algebra 1,” Scott says. “But now Algebra 1 is covered in Math I, Math II and Math III. The used to be a textbook for Geometry. Now Geometry is covered in Math I, Math II and Math III. There's not one that covers it all."

Instead teachers must now create their own worksheets and supplement them with online resources.

"It is a lot more rigorous and it's not what students are used to,” Scott says. “But the way we're trying to move is to get them to be more independent and think on their own."

Most school systems in the East notified parents about the changes before classes started this fall.

Washington High School teachers are even offering an after-school math lab to help students get acclimated to the new standards.

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