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Math program accelerates learning

New curriculum designed to challenge every student

Jamie Hallman

— Parent Carole Buelter has found benefits by donating her time to help teach accelerated math to seventh-graders at the middle school.

“It’s a great way for kids to get to push themselves on their own,” she said.

Accelerated math is a part of every seventh-grader’s math curriculum for two class periods a week, while the other three days students participate in the same math lecture but have differentiated assignments based on a student’s ability.

Buelter, who also teaches high school math, said students are working on problems she teaches to her ninth grade students.

Steamboat Springs Middle School Principal Tim Bishop said the new math curriculum is designed to challenge every student.

He said last year’s sixth grade Colorado Student Assessment Program revealed the current seventh graders were 83 percent proficient. He said because so many students are proficient, it made sense to make the math curriculum more challenging for all students.

“Students are able to work at their own level and the teacher is responsible for ensuring that those students are working at that level,” he said. “Our teachers are working hard.”

Assistant Middle School Principal Jerry Buelter agrees.

“We took our lead from our experts, our teachers. If it isn’t working, we are going to get rid of it,” he said.

The new math curriculum does not place students in different classes based on their abilities, but instead it is tailored to meet the abilities of every student in the class.

During the accelerated math class periods, students progress at their own pace using computer-generated assignments. There are two assignments tracks, with one designed for the more advanced student.

Each track equals three years of growth in math, Carole Buelter said.

She said the student’s goal is to get through one track in a year.

She said the more advanced track focuses on pre-algebra concepts.

“I think kids love to be self-directed. They just work away,” she said.

Carole Buelter and many other parent volunteers make offering accelerated math to all students possible.

She said the goal is to have two parent volunteers during each class to help log in assignments and check answers, so the main math teacher can be available to answer students’ questions.

She said using the computer-based assignments help teachers identify the weaknesses of each of their students.

“It is really wonderful,” she said.

Bishop said having students with different ability levels in the same classroom benefits all of the students.

“The idea behind it is that students learn best when they are not only learning from the teacher, but from each other,” he said.

Carole Buelter said having all abilities of students in one class takes the pressure off because their learning plans are more individualized and they can take as much time as needed to master a concept without feeling self-conscious about their ability level.

Last year, the middle school offered “challenge math” as a separate class for students who were advanced in math studies.

Parents addressed their concerns about the absence of a challenge math program during the school board meeting Monday night.

Parents said they want the advanced students to continue to excel and are worried that without a special program, their child’s math skills will decline.

Bishop said the middle school is using the same textbooks for challenge math in every math class this year.

“Let’s just raise the bar,” Bishop said.

He said he is getting rid of “challenge math” as a class name but is providing challenging curriculum to all students.

Bishop said he will be meeting with parents to address their concerns about the changes to the math program.

“Be in the classroom and you can see what is going on,” Bishop said.


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