Due to new Common Core standards and changing district goals, Arlington Heights Elementary District 25 is beginning a process to ramp up the difficulty of its math classes for middle schools with an eventual goal of having eighth-grade students take a high-school level geometry class.
By 2015-16, eighth-graders will be taking geometry, said Dale Truding, assistant superintendent for student learning.
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Truding and other administrators explained the changes to the District 25 school board at a recent meeting.
Sixth- and seventh-grade math classes will also be changed over the next few years with some sixth-graders taking pre-algebra and some seventh-graders taking algebra.
Changes will be phased in over the next few years as several different levels of math at each grade are combined into fewer, more rigorous options, Truding said.
The keys to implementing the changes are summed up with the words "fewer, clearer, higher," said Eric Larson, assistant principal at South Middle School.
Fewer -- meaning there won't be as many concepts taught, but students will learn more and have a deeper understanding of what they are being taught, he said.
"The curriculum will no longer be a mile wide and an inch deep," Larson said.
"We want students to get a mastery of the content,"
Clearer -- meaning there will be better coordination across each grade level at all District 25 schools and that the concepts will be better integrated as they go forward, Larson said.
Higher -- meaning the level of rigor and content difficulty will be bumped up a level for all students, he said.
Officials said there will be a free summer school class offered by the district to help prepare students who might not be ready for the higher level of math.
With students taking geometry earlier, many of them will end up taking Calculus 3 during high school and have the chance for more AP credits in math, officials said.
District 25 has also been working with Northwest Suburban High School District 214 to coordinate the math curriculum, Truding said.
Each middle school will send a math teacher to either Hersey or Prospect high schools -- which District 25 students go to after eighth grade -- to sit in on a morning geometry class on a regular basis over the next year.
The observations are expected to help ensure a clear transition, Truding said.