West Jefferson Hills' math curriculum to be fortified

| Wednesday, April 9, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

West Jefferson Hills School District is updating its math curriculum.

Bonnie Dyer, district director of curriculum, instruction and assessment, is working with teachers to make the math curriculum more compatible with the Keystone and Common Core Standard assessments.

The overhaul is taking place not only in kindergarten through third grade, but also at higher grade levels. She plans to have a new curriculum ready for grades kindergarten through grade 8 by next year, she said at the March 25 school board meeting.

By the fall of 2015, high school students will be offered algebra, pre-calculus and additional courses. Algebra also will be offered in the eighth grade.

An update to the math curriculum was exactly what some parents and students were looking for as they addressed the board at last month's meeting.

Gloria Shalles and her son, Mark, asked the directors to consider making math classes more rigorous.

The ninth-grader said he had never been challenged in any of his math classes and wasn't reaching his full potential. His mother asked for honors classes for students who need accelerated learning.

The education committee, made of up school board members, is working with Dyer and the teachers to change the math curriculum.

“We're looking at whether what we're teaching now meets the standards. What can we move or add?” Dyer said.

She added that students will spend more time on fewer topics.

“When the new math curriculum is implemented, one of the things parents and students may notice would be instruction on fewer math topics in a school year,” Dyer said. “By focusing on fewer topics, students will have the opportunity to delve deeply into mathematics concepts and their applications.”

Changes at the elementary and middle school levels will make for adjustments in the high school curriculum.

“Over time, there will be a focus on developing mathematical ‘habits of the mind' such as mathematical modeling, perseverance in problem solving and constructing mathematical arguments and critiquing the mathematical reasoning of others,” Dyer said.

Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5803 or ddreeland@tribweb.com.

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