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Class created for students on B math track

Jeren Wei

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Starting next year, the Math Department plans to introduce a new course called “Geometry and Problem Solving” for incoming 9th graders who were in B math in the Middle Division. Previously, these students had needed to take 8th grade Algebra 1 in 9th grade.

The class serves to address concerns regarding equity for these students who are a year behind in math, math teacher Jessica Emory said.

The idea was proposed by Math Department Chair Charles Worrall, and it aims to address foundational weaknesses, give students an intriguing math experience, and help students develop crucial skills such as numerical literacy and study habits, Emory said.

Emory, along with math teachers Nicholas Perry and Richard Somma worked on a summer grant for the proposal of “Geometry and Problem Solving,” and helped determine what textbooks would be used in the class, the topics of the syllabus, and the types of problems that may be discussed in class, Perry said.

“The course will be a great introduction to a more mature way of mathematical thinking and will prepare students for Algebra 2,” Worrall said. For the upcoming years, all 9th grade students will be taking Geometry in the high school instead of Algebra 1, Worrall said.

Worrall believes that the course will address many of the frustrations students and parents have had with needing to take a summer math course, as well as the stigma that comes along with being a year behind in math, he said.

“The math department has become aware that 9th graders who come into Algebra 1 feel separated from their peers since most students are taking Geometry,” Emory said.

Several students agreed with this sentiment and feel that it creates a sense of disconnection with their peers. “There is definitely a connotation of being in B math that you are not as smart as other people, which is false,” Maya Freeman (11) said. “Being a year behind in math really stressed me out a lot.”

Some students believe that being a year behind in math has affected their ability to productively participate in science classes. “It got difficult because I felt like I couldn’t do some of the math in science classes. I still feel behind now, so I don’t think I’m going to take physics because the math aspect of science is something I can’t wrap my head around,” Abigail Salzhauer (10) said.

Although students a year behind are not required to take a summer course for math, many students feel as if they must take Summer Geometry to catch up with their peers, which may place a financial burden on some families and make students give up a summer, Emory said.

“While financial aid does help, I think [summer geometry] is something that I should not have to pay for because I shouldn’t have to pay for a course to stay on the same track as the other students,” Jaden Richards (9), an Algebra 1 student, said.

Summer school may require some students to give up a summer that could have been spent in summer programs or camps, Matt said.

Furthermore, many students felt that taking Algebra 1 in 9th grade was repetitive, as the students had already taken Algebra 1 in 8th grade. “I felt like I was learning things I had already knew,” Sasha Matt (11) said.
Although the system was “flawed before,” the changes in the curriculum and addition of this new class will make for a positive change for incoming freshman, Matt said.

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Horace Mann's Weekly Newspaper Since 1903
Class created for students on B math track