Feb 24, 2007

more math? more time?

Today's word: more. (In education, isn't that every day's word?)

More math is on the table for the Olympia School District.
School Board President Rich Nafziger has proposed changing the math-credit requirement for Olympia students starting with those who are in fifth grade and head to middle school this fall. He said he wants Olympia to require high school students to take either algebra II or applied mathematics. The latter is a course that uses a hands-on approach to teach algebra II concepts.

Adding algebra II or applied mathematics wouldn't automatically mean students would have to take a third year of math. But because students often take algebra I as freshmen and geometry as sophomores, the algebra II requirement would make a third year inevitable for many, Olympia educators have said.
Meanwhile, nationwide, schools are thinking about expanding the school day and the calendar.
While Massachusetts is leading in putting in place the longer-day model, lawmakers in Minnesota, New Mexico, New York and Washington, D.C., also have debated whether to lengthen the school day or year.

In addition, individual districts such as Miami-Dade in Florida are experimenting with added hours in some schools.

On average, U.S. students go to school 6.5 hours a day, 180 days a year, fewer than in many other industrialized countries, according to a report by the Education Sector, a Washington-based think tank.

One model traditional that public schools are looking to is the Knowledge is Power Program, which oversees public charter schools nationwide.

Those schools typically serve low-income middle-school students, and their test scores show success. Students generally go from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week and for a few hours every other Saturday. They also go to school for several weeks in the summer.

That amounts to at least 50 percent more instructional time for students in such programs than in traditional public schools, according to the report.

The extended-day schedule costs on average about $1,200 extra per student, program spokesman Stephen Mancini said.
The best part of the plan: it allows the rebirth of electives, which many districts are squashing because of pressure to boost test scores in core areas.

Read both articles, and consider: do we need more math? More time? More?

Update: The Science Goddess says:
I will be interested to see if this idea catches on. It would require a significant amount of community support and state dollars to make it fly; but as we continue to assign greater value in educating the whole child (not just the parts that can read, do math, and think scientifically), perhaps taxpayers may be interested in pursuing this option.
The "we" in "we continue to assign..." being teachers and parents and students. Policymakers, wanna jump on board?

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