New math class to help students in higher-level college course being developed

By: Patty McAlpin Lincoln News Messenger Correspondent
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School district representatives and local college staff are collaborating on a new math course to prepare graduating high school seniors for direct entry into higher-level college math courses. On Tuesday, the Western Placer Unified School District board approved a memorandum of understanding by a 3 to 0 vote to work with Sierra College and California State University at Sacramento to write the new math curriculum. Voting unanimously were trustees Damian Armitage, Kris Wyatt and Brian Haley. Trustees Paul Long and Paul Carras were absent. “This is wonderful for the students,” board vice president Kris Wyatt said. “Anything to give them a head start is awesome.” Board clerk Brian Haley agreed. “I’ve gone to workshops on the Early Assessment Program (EAP),” Haley said. “This saves students’ time.” Based on Early Assessment Program testing results during their junior STAR testing, students receive either a “Pass” or a “Not Pass” in English language arts and a “Pass,” a “Conditional Pass” or a “Not Pass” in mathematics indicating readiness for college credit classes, said district Deputy Superintendent of Educational Services Mary Boyle. For students who receive anything less than a “Pass” on the Early Assessment Program, further coursework and/or testing is required before students may enter into a credit-bearing college course at Sierra College or California State University at Sacramento. The district is participating in the Mathematics Curriculum Development Project to write a Senior Math Experience course that would fulfill the preparatory requirements for students receiving an Early Assessment Program “Conditional Pass” in mathematics. That would allow them direct entry into higher credit-bearing Sierra College mathematics courses. Boyle said approximately 25 to 30 percent of current seniors scored a “Conditional Pass” in mathematics on their junior STAR test. Students who complete the new 16-week course satisfactorily would receive non-transferrable college credit, be exempt from the college’s math placement program and receive placement into college-level math courses such as algebra and trigonometry. Sierra College obtained a grant to write the curriculum. The grant, which is approximately $15,000, pays for stipends for teachers writing the course content. The team writing the curriculum includes representatives from Western Placer Unified School District, Nevada Joint Union High School District, Placer Union High School District, Rocklin Unified School District, Roseville Joint Union High School District and Tahoe Truckee Unified School District. Lincoln High School math instructor and former engineer Ellen Byron is Western Placer’s representative. Also on the team are Chrissy Poulsen of Placer County Office of Education, Maile Barron of Sierra College and Ravin Pan of California State University, Sacramento. Boyle is a member of the management team working with Sierra College and California State University at Sacramento to determine course credit and equivalency. Team members are expected to complete an articulation process with Sierra College and determine course equivalency with California State University Sacramento by March. They are scheduled to determine the credit process for students who complete the new course by April. High school pilot classes would be scheduled for fall 2012.