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Article posted: 5/15/2013 5:30 AM

District 300 first to offer fourth-year math course

By Tara García Mathewson

Seniors at Jacobs, Hampshire and Dundee-Crown high schools will have the opportunity to take a new math class next year with a textbook designed especially for them.

The course was developed by the Alliance for College Readiness, which includes Elgin Community College and all of its feeder high school districts -- Elgin Area School District U-46, St. Charles Community Unit District 303, Burlington-based Central Unit District 301, and Carpentersville-based Community Unit District 300, the only district to offer the course next year.

Representatives from all of the districts, the college and a professor from Northern Illinois University have worked for almost two years designing the course, compiling information for the textbook and working with a nonprofit publisher to print it.

District 300 board members approved the new textbook at their meeting Monday night.

The course is meant for students who finish the standard three-year high school math curriculum and don't want to take calculus. This class gives them an option for bridging the gap between high school and college math.

Benjamin Churchill, assistant superintendent for high school teaching and learning at District 300, said members of the Alliance developed the course as a way to serve students graduating from high school unprepared for college-level math.

"In many cases, we'll have students who get through a pretty high-level curriculum in three years," Churchill said. "It's not that they're not good at math."

But after a year or two off, Churchill said, these students get out of the habit of doing math and then come up short on college placement exams.

In District 300, the goal was to get 30 students from each high school to take the course next year. In the end, 300 signed up.

Libby Roeger, dean of college transitions and developmental education at ECC, said the course focuses on learning math by using it in real-world scenarios.

"You're not listening and watching somebody write on the board in this class," Roeger said. "You're working, and many times working in small groups, to help figure out a problem."

The Alliance will track student outcomes and hopes to see fewer students in need of remedial math at the college level because of this course.

ACT scores will be used to gauge progress and students who go to ECC from the feeder high schools can also be tracked easily.

Districts U-46, 303 and 301 are still in the curriculum review process but Roeger said they all expect to offer it in the 2014-15 school year.

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