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SHS to implement new math curriculum

The state of Washington is changing how it assesses student learning in algebra and geometry.

As a result, Sunnyside High School is changing its curriculum for three key courses, Algebra 1, Geometry and Algebra 2.

They are courses that most students at the high school will take at some point, and starting with the 2010-11 school year students will face entirely new textbooks.

James Wise is a math teacher at SHS and is the school's department head in the subject matter. He says the new curriculum is needed because OSPI is changing how it assesses students.

"There's a different assessment model. The state has decided they're going to give a test on just Algebra 1 after the first class," Wise said.

That means integrated textbooks, which combines teaching on algebra and geometry, will not prepare students for the state tests after completing Algebra 1.

For Sunnyside that means a need for new textbooks for some high school math because the curriculum is integrated, or has algebra and geometry mixed together.

As an example, Wise noted that an integrated curriculum might have a problem where both the geometry principles of triangles and their algebraic equations are worked on at the same time.

In the new curriculum, the topics would be handled in separate textbooks.

The new curriculum, at a total cost of nearly $200,000 for materials and implementation, is on its way despite the fact the books its replacing were only adopted by the district four years ago.

"That was just unfortunate timing," said Wise, noting the previous algebra and geometry texts were purchased four years ago when Sunnyside had just reached the end of its typical seven-year cycle for curriculum.

"We had to make a decision and made the best choice we could," he said, adding the algebra and geometry curriculum Sunnyside had was ranked among the top three in the state.

The change in curriculum does not affect other math classes like pre-calculus, which are not facing changes in the way the state tests students.

The Sunnyside School Board adopted the new math curriculum last week.

Copies of the materials are available for review at the Lincoln Administrative Building, 1110 S. Sixth Street, in Room 23. For more information call the district office at 837-5851.

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