I think a study needs to be started here in Washington about the correlation between the Integrated Math program and the low scores on the math section of Washington’s graduation exam. Nearly half the sophomores in the state failed it. That’s just unacceptable.
Many of them are our students, students we have worked hard to help understand the concepts necessary to pass the WASL. We see them two to four hours a week, there’s only so much we can do.
What I honestly believe is at the root of the problem is the Integrated Math program that seems to be in place in areas of Washington. This program seems to be frustrating local students no end, and after a week or so of trying to help these students with their homework, it wasn’t hard to see why.
The program combines algebra, trigonometry, and geometry into one three-level class. The students practice exclusively on real-world problems. While that might be all well and good, it never actually gets around to teaching the skills necessary to complete these problems. To make matters worse, the problems in the textbooks are worded in such a way that experienced math teachers are having to look at the answer and then work backwards to figure out the approach the writer wanted.
Call me crazy, but math isn’t hard, and we should be doing everything in our power to make it more accessible to them. This, I suspect, isn’t working.