With Common Core now fully underway in the Turlock Unified School District, some parents are now fighting back for their children’s education, in particular for middle school math offerings.
A parent of three TUSD students, Marie Guerrero, launched a petition asking the district to “offer accelerated math classes for 7th and 8th graders” on Sunday to address the district’s failure to offer math enrichment opportunities for middle school math students through the Common Core Implementation Plan.
Guerrero, a former math teacher in Southern California, says the petition is the best way to affect change.
Both Guerrero and fellow middle school parent Jennifer Carlsen say they have talked to TUSD personnel from their children’s teachers, all the way up the chain to principals, district office personnel and Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Dana Trevethan, and yet no plan to address their concerns has been implemented.
“This is not about Common Core, this is about how the district is rolling it out and how they are lumping students together in one class,” said Carlsen, who is a mental health professional.
Currently all TUSD students in seventh- and eighth-grade are all placed into one class, regardless of mathematical ability. The classes are known as “Integrated Math 7” and “Integrated Math 8,” respectively.
“There are two main reasons why we need another math option in the middle grades right now. The first is that the wide range of mathematical knowledge among students in one classroom is not allowing students to progress through new concepts and have enough rigor. The second reason is that the current pathway that students will follow through high school will not give accelerated students the opportunity to take the same advanced math classes and exams as their peers in other school districts,” Guerrero wrote in the petition.
The heart of the matter is that advanced math students are simply becoming bored and frustrated at school, often feeling held back.
“My son tells me that math is social hour,” said Carlsen. “The district is not even following its own plan. In the Multi-tiered System of Support, there are two ends of the spectrum — the kids who need extra support and the kids who need enrichment opportunities. The district is simply not providing enrichment for the kids who need it.”
Throughout the Common Core planning process, the district held numerous workshops with stakeholders in the academic community, often using buzzwords like ‘increased rigor” and “depth of knowledge.”
However, Carlsen points out that in her son’s Integrated Math 7 students have spent six weeks on ratios and rate calculations.
“Some kids need that amount of time to get it, but not all. When has a one-size fits all approach ever worked?” Carlsen questioned.
In an email to Turlockcitynews.com, Trevethan said TUSD is aware of the petition.
“TUSD will continue to implement our Multi-Tiered [System] of Support with fidelity to accommodate the varied learners in our Math Common Core 7 and 8 math classes until we have substantial data from our first formative assessment to plan for the future,” said Trevathan. “Internal rotations and differentiated instruction in classrooms will be at the forefront of our immediate efforts. Our committee of 30 educators, who possess both expertise in math and teaching at all levels, including GATE, will review our progress and lack thereof this month to make the best recommendations on behalf of all learners for both this year and subsequent years.”
Guerrero says the solution is simple.
“Offer an accelerated seventh-grade math class that compresses both the seventh- and eighth-grade common core standards into one year,” said Guerrero. “Then offer an accelerated eighth-grade math class that is Common Core Math I. Students who successfully complete Common Core Math I as eighth graders can begin high school with Common Core Math II, followed by Common Core Math III, pre-calculus and calculus.”
The petition can be found here.
Petition signatures will be automatically emailed to all members of the TUSD Board of Trustees, as well as Superintendent Dr. Sonny Da Marto and Trevethan.