Math curriculum alignment meeting

Math alignment meeting hosted by Pohnpei Islands Central School 6/22/2012. 

COM-FSM Chair Division of Mathematics and Natural Sciences Snyther Biza recapped the first meeting of the alignment group at which the group learned that the curricula differed between PICS and Madolehnihmw High School. 

PICS then presented a mapping of their text books to MS 094 Technical math MS 096, MS 99, and MS 100 College Algebra. PICS has over 1000 students. The skill set of the students in any one class can vary considerably, class sizes tend to be large, and the PICS faculty tackle heavy loads due to be understaffed in relation to the number of students being served.

The TNI students at PICS do not take Algebra II, but the TNI chair wants the students to take Algebra II [to help prepare the students for going on to programs at the college].

In general students at PICS take prealgebra their freshmen year, algebra I their sophomore year. At the end of the sophomore year the students pick a major - academic, business, vocational. The students are then placed into sections within that major by the counselors, possibly by considering their grade point average.

Junior year the academic majors at PICS take geometry, the business majors take business math.

Senior year PICS runs 12 sections of mathematics, which represents full utilization of the faculty available to teach senior year mathematics. [As a result], only academic and business majors are served.

At PICS, only the academic majors take physics, a course which helps reinforce mathematics concepts.

The vocational students at PICS take one year of applied mathematics. Applied mathematics is not currently under the mathematics division at PICS. The concept is that applied mathematics is taught on an "as needed" basis and not necessarily as a formal course per se. The vocational instructors, however, note that mathematics is not their field and would like the mathematics division to teach the material. The mathematics division is already teaching all the sections that the division can handle and is stretched to thin with too many student to pick up the applied mathematics load.

At present the push remains to deliver applied mathematics "in curriculum" as the mathematical need arises. Some of the texts in vocational, such as the automotive program, support this approach.

A new schedule has been proposed at PICS wherein all students will take prealgebra, algebra I, and algebra II. The business majors would also take business mathematics, while the academic majors would take geometry. The vocational students would take applied mathematics. This is only a proposal.

Dana asked if PICS and MHS could provide him with class lists for each section for last spring, then he could run an analysis of the COMET by section. This would have more meaning than overall averages given the differing mathematics backgrounds of the students within each high school major. 

The college's director of academic programs noted that the IRPO office had some data that showed a stronger correlation between the sum on the mathematics COMET and college success in mathematics than with the placement scores by column. [In the 1990s mathematics placement was done based on the total score (the sum) on a Mathematics Association of America standardized test. In 2001 the placements derived from the total score were determined to be no better than random at predicting success in a mathematics course. That study is no longer extant, but that work led directly to the development current four column test structure in 2003].

At Madolehnihmw High School all freshmen take Algebra I, the sophomores take Geometry, the Juniors take Algebra II, and the seniors take Algebra and Trigonometry. All sections take algebra II in their junior year - this is a new change made last year. 

The teaching of algebra and trigonometry to the seniors at MHS is limited by both the faculty capacity to deliver this material and a lack of textbooks for the the algebra and trigonometry course. The MHS instructors lack confidence in this material and could use content training. The instructors would most benefit from an afterschool workshop on algebra and trigonometry content, not methods. The instructors at PICS suggested that MHS join them in ordering textbooks.

At MHS the vocational students take applied mathematics their junior year. There is no text book for this course. Thus the vocational students have one semester of algebra II and one semester of applied mathematics. Note that these are one semester in length. In the fall the vocational juniors take one semester of applied mathematics, in the spring they take one semester of algebra II. The classes meet every day for 90 minutes.

PICS noted that they began a similar schedule [four years ago] but ran into text book difficulties - specifically a lack of textbooks. In the wake of that effort, PICS opted to shift to teaching all freshmen prealgebra. 

MHS teaches all freshmen algebra I, but this nascent effort is only a year old. 

PICS teaches algebra II for a full year. 

Apparently the mathematics standards were revised to reflect a mathematics sequence that would run from algebra to precalculus in the high schools in Pohnpei. Supporting these new standards will require content training and training of instructors on how to handle skill level diversity within their classrooms. 

Nanpei Memorial High School was not present for the meeting and apparently had not been present for the first meeting of the math alignment group. 

The next meeting will be 1:00 P.M. Friday 03 August 2012 at Madolehnihmw High School. 

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