Developing a vision for math at STEM K-8 involved planning and research into instructional materials and the scope and sequence of math skills students learn. From the beginning our mission has valued challenge and preparing students to take advanced math courses in high school and beyond. Currently within Seattle Public Schools and nationally, completing Algebra by 8th grade is a common pathway to advanced mathematics in high school.
To support this aspect of STEM K-8’s vision we made important choices. As a K-8 school, we are staffed to provide one primary sequence of math classes for students (students receiving Special Education services for math in middle school may follow a different course sequence). To complete Algebra 1 by the end of 8th grade, students entering 6th grade in 2017 will follow the “Accelerated Traditional Pathway for the Common Core State Mathematics Standards” laid out in the Common Core Mathematics Standards.
This pathway, detailed in Common Core State Standards_Mathematics_Appendix_A, pages 80-146 (attached to this email), lays out an accelerated math curriculum covering 7th and 8th grade. This pathway does not omit any content or Common Core Standards; instead, it compacts three years’ worth of standards into two years. Students will learn seventh grade standards plus portions of 8th grade standards in 7th grade, and the remaining 8th grade standards plus Algebra 1 in their 8th grade year. The research behind this pathway and detailing of standards is laid out in the appendix referenced above.
A compacted math pathway entails a fast pace and a high level of academic rigor. With this understanding, we are providing multiple supports, including middle school Math Empowerment Pathway classes designed to provide students with additional opportunities to practice mathematical skills. It will also require a strong commitment from students and families. We are prioritizing preparation for advanced math, and students needing math support may have additional homework, need further support, or miss other opportunities. Choosing STEM K-8 as an option school is also making a significant math commitment. Parents interested in discussing our middle school math pathway are invited to join me for a discussion before school on Friday, December 15 from 8:15-8:45.