The Examiner U-46 News Feed
U-46 Board reviews two curriculum proposals
By Seth Hancock
The Board of Education in School District U-46 heard two curriculum proposals, in transition math and high school physical education (PE), for implementation in the 2019-20 school year.
The proposals were presented on Monday, Nov. 5, and the board will vote on them at its upcoming meeting on Monday, Nov. 19.
The transition math proposal includes three new courses (college algebra, quantitative literacy and statistics, technical math) for seniors not considered college or career ready in math at the end of their junior year.
Officials said they are working with Elgin Community College (ECC) and all other feeder school districts into ECC to develop the courses. No estimated price or planned resources were included in the presentation.
Josh Carpenter, assistant superintendent, said the goals of the courses are to “provide students a mathematical foundation for college and careers, reduce math remediation rates and bridge the gap of the fourth year of math for students who often opt out of math their senior year.”
Students who complete the courses successfully, receiving a C or better grade, are “guaranteed placement into a credit bearing math course at any Illinois community college,” according to Carpenter. Amy Ingente, math coordinator, said some four-year universities, like Eastern Illinois University, will also accept it.
“It isn’t new content,” Ingente said. “So the experience of the course is going to be new for the students” and will include “bigger problems that are more project-based, problem-based learning instead of just skill acquisition and going through equations.”
Ingente said that around 65 percent of U-46 students historically had to take remedial math courses at ECC. The data given in the proposal dated back to 2006 which showed a high of 68.4 percent in 2017 and a low of 60.3 percent in 2015.
The proposal includes ongoing professional development (PD), including for guidance counselors, starting in the summer of 2019. The same PD is planned for the PE proposal.
Board member Sue Kerr asked if other community colleges are developing similar courses for their feeder districts to which Ingente said: “All of the community colleges are working with their feeder high schools to develop these courses.”
Prior to the meeting, Kerr asked about current seniors and how many would not meet two of the seven criteria used for determining if a student is ready for college math and the district responded: “About 60 [percent] of students are eligible for a transition math course using these criteria.”
The district said current senior math offerings (i.e. pre-calculus, calculus, statistics) “will probably have fewer sections” with the addition of the transition math courses in response to Kerr, and regarding guidance counselors receiving PD: “This regular PD is a newer occurrence and Instructional Council was reinforcing the need for counselors to be well trained in understanding new course offerings.”
Board member Melissa Owens said she thought this was a “great step,” and she asked before the meeting how many of U-46 students needing remedial math courses in college did not take math as a senior and if other school districts have implemented similar courses.
The district responded “we do not have data” but their “belief is that the large majority of students who did not take the fourth year, would qualify for remedial mathematics.” It also called this a “new approach” and “we are presently working with all other area districts to design these courses.”
In response to a question from board member Jeanette Ward regarding resources, U-46 stated: “The resources have not yet been identified. The four high school districts are currently working together to create assessments for the three courses so that we all have a common understanding of the intention and outcomes for each course. Once those assessments are completed, we will consider the selection of resources to best meet our desired outcomes.”
The PE proposal would provide eight new courses for freshmen to select including two courses in each: functional fitness, strength and performance, walking for wellness and team sports officiating and coaching.
The total projected cost is $191,502 ($58.81 per student estimated) broken down between technology ($156,305), software and apps ($12,574), PD ($10,404), teacher resources ($8,280) and equipment ($3,940).
PE teacher Carl Metzke said “we’ve been offering the same courses for a long time” and “the teachers who came together to do this were really a group of people who wanted to come together to think outside the box.”
One of the beliefs in the proposal was “moving away from the emphasis on team games,” and board member Phil Costello asked why that was a belief?
Tracey Jakaitis, student wellness coordinator, said: “I would say the number of our students who participate in team sports is decreasing, and it’s not necessarily a lifelong fitness and wellness activity. And so we need to move our curriculum to what our students need and I’m sure our PE teachers can tell you the majority of students in physical education do not desire to play volleyball, basketball, badminton and soccer.”
Jakaitis added: “I know, it’s hard to believe because I love that, but they do not fit. That’s just not what kids are wanting to do today.”
Costello said he “agreed” that team sports weren’t “necessarily a lifelong fitness and wellness activity.”
Owens asked about the courses only being offered to freshmen to which Jakaitis said “that was our original proposal” but they will now open it up for others because of interest.
Regarding team sports, Kerr said she “hated field hockey” and “hated gym” when she was in high school, and Jakaitis said current students “aren’t excited about it” either and the hope is this creates more interest.
Board member Veronica Noland said she liked the proposal and this will provide “low cost, lifelong activities that these students can do and team sports can be extremely expensive, [for] some of them.”