Mar 11 2018

OPINION: Problematic Newly Approved Math Pathways Program

Piedmont School Board adopted the new Math Pathways Proposal on a 3-2 vote.

    The purpose of the Wednesday, February 28 meeting was mainly to review the new proposed Math Pathways Recommendation for the Middle School and High School, championed by the Director of Curriculum for PUSD, Dr. Cheryl Wozniak.

    The Piedmont Board of Education is composed of five elected representatives oligarchy whose purpose is to represent the interests of all students, review and approve budgets and employs all school faculty members from teachers to the Superintendent and votes on policies within the State of California’s Education Codes. Piedmont School Board usually meets on the second and fourth Wednesday of every month in the City Hall Council Chambers at 7:00.

    The major issue addressed during the meeting was this was the last hearing of the adoption of the proposed Math Pathways program. Dr. Wozniak gave a presentation on the proposed 2018-19 Math Pathways proposal. In her presentation of the now adopted proposal, she explained students in the Grade Level Compression(“GLC”), High School Compression(“HSC) and Middle School Compression(“MSC”) will have the Math Pathways program. After 5th grade math, both pathways will have completed Common Core 6-8.  When the students reach 8th grade, however for students on MSC they will have already complete IM-1. But, once they are in High School, GLC students would only take IM-1 through 3 from freshman year to junior year, leaving these students with only an option of taking Math Analysis or Statistics (“Stats”) during their Senior year with no option of taking a Calculus class.

   In HSC and MSC both pathways by the end of 10th grade students would complete IM-3 and the pathway only allows students to take either Math Analysis or Honors Math Analysis in their Junior year and in their Senior year these students will only have the choice of taking AP Calc AB(“Calc = Calculus”), AP Calc BC, Stats or Honors Stats(“H Stats”). However, for students taking AP Calc BC, Calc A would be integrated in this class.

   PHS Seniors Jeremy Wong, Jane Anderson, and Kylie Hilton were the only students from the audience who opposed the now adopted math pathways proposal.

    I strongly oppose the new adoption of the Math Pathways 2018-2019 proposal.  It is fundamentally flawed for three reasons.

  • One – What is the point of having HSC and MSC, 2 pathways, if the students when they arrive at their Senior year end up having the option to take either Calc AB, Calc BC, Stats or H Stats? In short HSC, and MSC end up at the same spot, their both really same pathway. It does not make any sense whatsoever.
  • Two – The proposal prevents and limits High School Students from taking AP math classes (AP Calc AB and BC are the only AP math classes that PHS offers) during students’ Junior year. For the class of 2018 and 2019, students who were on the old Advanced Math Pathway could take AP Calc AB during their Junior year and AP Calc BC during their Senior year.
  • Three – Since students under this proposal can not take both AP Calc AB and BC in high school and that AP Calc BC has AP Calc A already integrated within AP Calc BC, what is the point of having Calc AB. Students under this proposal would probably just take AP Calc BC because they are learning Calc A and Calc BC in the same course plus, the majority of colleges only accept calc credit if Students took the AP Calc BC test.

    We do not want to drive more students out of Piedmont because of the math program. Piedmont High School has 397 students and the senior class of 2018 only 97 students. The class of 2018 is the smallest class at PHS, and the class size has significantly decreased over the past four years. The adopted proposal will create more unnecessary stress and pressure, plus it will make it harder for the future classes to compete against students nationally and internationally when applying to colleges.

    Students and Parents were not well informed by the school of the math pathways proposal.

    I do not understand why the School Board passed an extremely flawed proposal which is detrimental to the future classes in the long run, instead of not adopting it and “assigning” the school to create a more revised proposal that gives students more autonomy when choosing their math classes.

    Before the meeting started, I interviewed MHS Senior Joshua Miller, VP of Millennium High School (MHS) who has a non-voting seat on the Board as a student representative.  Miller said to me that part of the role of the office of the VP of MHS is to address what’s going student wise in Piedmont and at Millennium as a part of the District. I asked what issues he would like addressed during the meeting. Miller said, “Well, academic wise I’m just bringing up how the quarter ends for Piedmont and marking period ends at Millennium, and activities stuff like the schools plays, the Bird Calling Contest, the community dinner and stuff that has been happening around the community.”

By Jeremy Wong,  Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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