Wednesday, April 05, 2000

Math course moves along step by step

Enquirer Contributor

        OXFORD — Talawanda High School will learn in May whether a math program begun in August wins a best practice award from the Ohio Department of Education.

        The program, Mastery and Modular Algebra, is modeled after a program at Glendale Union High School in Glendale, Ariz. All freshmen — and upperclassmen who haven't passed it — take Algebra I. The course has been divided into four, nine-week modular units.

        To move from one unit to the next, students must pass tests with a score of 80 percent or better. Those who don't pass retake the unit the following quarter.

        “I'm very proud of what our department has done,” math department chairman John Meece recently told the Talawanda Board of Education. “They like what we're doing, even though it's in its infancy stage.”

        In the first nine weeks, 220 of 292 students — 75.3 percent — passed the first unit. During the second nine weeks, 176 of 204 students — or 86.3 percent — passed the unit, Mr. Meece said.

        “We're right about where we should be,” Mr. Meece said. “We have raised the bar for these kids. Studies show a great indicator of success is (mastery of) algebra.”

        To assist students, members of the math department offered a prep course in July to ready students for algebra. Teachers are available before and after school for tutoring. Summer school will be offered for students who need it.

        The program also calls for the same lesson to be taught the same day by all teachers. All of the tests, problems and exercises used are identical from class to class. It is part of a new approach to math that will be phased in over three years. Remedial courses have been dropped.

        To graduate, Talawanda High School students will have to take Algebra I, geometry and one math elective.


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