Math Program Provides Early Pathways for Acceleration

August 22, 2002
Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) has made significant progress toward designing and implementing a greatly strengthened mathematics curriculum, with a special emphasis on providing accelerated pathways for greater math achievement in elementary school.

The improvements in the entire mathematics program of studies provide opportunities that will increase the number of students completing algebra by the end of Grade 8 and for participating in more advanced instruction in high school.

The improvements also address key elements of the mathematics audit in 2001 and provide a basis for using the revisions in mathematics as a model for similar reform efforts throughout the school system.

“The continuing efforts to invigorate the mathematics program, including collaboration with Achieve Inc. and the College Board on a review of the algebra countywide exam, establish the school system’s commitment to superior student achievement in mathematics,” Superintendent Jerry D. Weast said in a report to the Board of Education. “I look forward to even greater results as the full impact of the curricular and program improvements are implemented.”

Accelerated K-5 pathways

One of the key innovations in the revised mathematics program is the opportunity for able students to engage in accelerated mathematics instruction as early as kindergarten, with the possibility of completing the first middle school mathematics course (Math A) as early as Grade 3.

The program, titled "Accelerated Pathways," is designed so all students receive the appropriate math instruction at each grade level and all students have the opportunity to receive accelerated curriculum during each unit. (See chart in related web link below.)

Acceleration guidelines

The mathematics instructional guides provide teachers with specific processes for accelerating students through the next grade level in mathematics. For example, if a student is two or more grade levels ahead in math, then the student should receive instruction based on the appropriate grade level instructional guide.

Each grade level instructional guide is organized into units of instruction. Within each unit, teachers are given direction for the appropriate acceleration to the next grade level. The table below identifies the components of the instructional guides that provide this direction and how to use these components.

Promoting achievement

The improvements in the mathematics program are grounded in the revisions to the mathematics curriculum. The curriculum revisions address the findings and recommendations of the mathematics audit of 2001, as well as changes sought by principals, teachers, parents, and mathematics specialists to add more rigor to the teaching and learning of mathematics at every grade level. The primary factors in curriculum revision have responded to four main questions that illustrate the interrelated elements of not only the curriculum, but also assessment, intervention, and rigor:

§ What do students need to know and be able to do? (Curriculum)
§ How do we know if they know it? (Assessment)
§ What do we do if they don’t? (Intervention)
§ What do we do if they have already learned it? (Rigor)

Work on the math curriculum and advancements has been conducted by the Office of Instruction and Program Development, under the leadership of Theresa Cepaitis and Leah Quinn, program supervisors of Pre-K-12 mathematics in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

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