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Georgia High School Teachers Dislike Integrated Math

Nearly 85 percent of Georgia teachers participating in a recent survey said they would rather use the traditional algebra-geometry-algebra 2 pathway for high school math than the integrated model the state currently requires.

The Common Core State Standards for mathematics suggest schools choose between two approaches to high school mathematics courses: traditional and integrated. The diagram below, from Appendix A of the standards, shows what the two possible course progressions look like. 

Integrated vs traditional math pathway.JPG

The integrated pathway organizes the standards differently, putting a bit of algebra, geometry, and statistics in each course. 

Georgia actually began using an integrated pathway in 2008, before it implemented the common standards. That move has been the subject of much debate in the state over the last few years.

I spoke with several officials from the Georgia department of education yesterday, who said that when the state adopted the common standards, it kept the integrated approach but, paradoxically, made courses less integrated than before. "We moved from a very integrated sequence of math to a much more discrete [one] as result of common core," said Sandi Woodall, the mathematics program manager for the state. (This chart shows the current options for course sequence in Georgia. The Option 1 sequence has a course in 9th grade called "coordinate algebra," which is similar to a discrete algebra course, the officials explained.) The majority of states went with the traditional model. 

However, the survey, which was conducted for the state board of education and received responses from 1,019 high school teachers, made it clear that Georgia educators are not fans of the integrated approach. "They would prefer being an algebra teacher or a geometry teacher," said Woodall. "They don't want even the perception that they're expected to teach both." 

Georgia education officials say there's a good chance the mandate that courses be integrated will change. "We expect to have recommendations to the state board in November relative to how standards are delivered, and we could very well have the option" to teach the traditional pathway, said Martha Reichrath, deputy superintendent for curriculum, instruction, and assessment. 

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