Members of the Plymouth School Board received an update on the Plymouth High School Mathematics Department during their meeting last week.
Principal Jacob Singleton, Math Department Chair Ryan Rust, and Math Teacher Curtis Nordmann wanted to discuss the new vision for math at Plymouth High School.
There are three basic math courses Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra II offered at the High School that they are looking to change. Mr. Singleton said math scores around the state at all levels have not only been low but are consistently lower than English scores on both the SAT and ILEARN. He said the current structure is to teach students starting their freshman year with Algebra I, moving to Geometry in their sophomore year, and then another full year of Algebra II as a junior.
Singleton said, “This stand-alone approach has been the norm, but it brings up some issues. Instead of students being repeatedly exposed to Algebra and Geometry every year they’ve just been exposed to the one. This creates issues when students take the SAT their junior year because it’s a high-level test that requires student proficiency in all three of those areas.”
The school has shown that the current model for teaching math isn’t helping students when they take the SAT in their junior year.
Over the past year, the Math Department has started to rethink the way they structure math by looking at the SAT tests. The teachers have taken several SAT tests themselves and identified learning targets, skills, and concepts they have seen as most prevalent in the test.
The PHS Math department will be moving to a program of Math 1, Math 2, and Math 3 with a blended approach to teaching each of the math disciplines at each level.
Mr. Singleton said, “The 3-year roll-out process will ensure there are no gaps for students.” Next school year Algebra will be replaced with Math 1, keeping Geometry and Algebra II. In the school year 2025-26, Geometry will be replaced with Math II and the following year Algebra II will be replaced with Math III. Mr. Singleton said they believe this change will make Plymouth students more successful in math education.
The secondary math specialist at the Indiana Department of Education was thrilled to learn about the change in math teaching at PHS and said she felt there may be a trend in the state to make that move.