Understanding High School Math from Jeff Owens

Happy New year!  I would like to post about our approach to mathematics education at MLA.  My hope is that this information will help you understand how we are helping your student on their pathway through mathematics in high school.  MLA adopted the Integrated Mathematics approach over the more traditional approach of the past.

What is Integrated Math?

Many, if not most of us were taught math in High School through the traditional approach, by splitting up different disciplines of mathematics into different classes, such as Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, Statistics, Calculus, and so on. In the traditional approach, students for example would take a Geometry class, focus for one year on that subject never to truly use it again until it was time to study for the ACT or SAT.  

In an Integrated mathematics approach, many topics or disciplines of mathematics are studied each year.  Each math course our students take covers algebra, geometry, trigonometry, statistics, probability, and more.  Lesson topics, concepts, and dependencies build on each other and get more advanced year after year.

Is integrated math a better system?

According to this article by Madeline Will for EdWeek.org, students who have an integrated math curriculum have been proven in studies to outperform students who followed a traditional math curriculum.  This same article also stated: “Many countries—including those whose students outperform the United States in international assessments—use an integrated-mathematics sequence at the secondary level. And many American teachers and administrators who have transitioned to a combined-math pathway say they have seen benefits.”  Since the article’s publication in 2014, many of the questions and concerns expressed have been addressed.  It is a little outdated, but the info is accurate and informative.

How does it work?

Study the provided graphic to compare what classes students might take in each mathematics pathway. 

Hope this helps,

Jeff Owens

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