I was puzzled when I saw the Twitter comment yesterday from a Southwest DeKalb High School mother that the school lacked math teachers, which sounded impossible. And, in fact, the high school has math teachers, 15 of them.
However, the school did not have the two math teachers needed for an elective class called math support. And that was what alarmed a mom who discovered her daughter was in PE rather than math.
(Two teachers are supposed to be starting this week, according to the county. I am now hearing from other teachers that their schools are also down math teachers and kids have been having long-term subs. Isn’t this what was supposed to be resolved by the closer alliances between k-12 and the public colleges? Can’t Georgia Tech help with math teachers?)
The mother expressed shock that a high student would go a semester without any math, but that is not uncommon in block schedule schools that follow the model in which a yearlong course is compressed into a single semester.
Under block scheduling at my local high school, my son once did not have math courses in either the spring or fall semester, which meant he went a full year without sitting in a single math class.
When Southwest lost its two math support teachers, the school switched students into another elective, said spokesman Jeff Dickerson.
But what I don’t get is how 55 Southwest DeKalb High students could have been enrolled in math support without being enrolled in a core math class at the same time.
The state Department of Education describes math support as “an elective class that should be taught concurrently with a student’s regular mathematics class.”
Purpose: The purpose of the Mathematics Support class is to address the needs of students who have traditionally struggled in mathematics by providing the additional time and attention they need in order to successfully complete their regular grade-level mathematics course without failing. Mathematics Support is an elective class that should be taught concurrently with a student’s regular mathematics class.
Who should teach this course? The course should be taught by a certified mathematics teacher, preferably one with experience in differentiating instruction to meet the needs of struggling students. The Mathematics Support teacher should work closely with the teacher(s) in the regular academic mathematics class to align content, instruction, and assessments.
What credit is earned for the Mathematics Support class? One unit of elective credit is earned for this course.
Dickerson says that the students enrolled in math support this semester were scheduled to take their regular math course next semester. Based on the DOE information about how math support is supposed to function, I am not sure about the advisability of splitting the math support and regular math classes.
Dickerson also said one of the students whose mother was upset is scheduled to take an AP math next semester. “Why do we have a student in math support class at all when she is taking AP Algebra next semester?” he said.
That ought to be a question directed to or the school counselor and the school, which I assume had to approve the student’s schedule. A reader pointed out that there is no AP Algebra so unsure what Dickerson meant. Perhaps, honors algebra?
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog