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To The Editor:
In a March 14 letter sent to some seventh-grade parents, the Washington West Supervisory Union administration announced the end of an eighth-grade algebra classroom offering effective in the fall.
The administration is asserting that by requiring all eighth-grade students to take a regular math class, they will better be able meet the new national Common Core State Standards. Those students who "qualify" will be able to take an online algebra class, but this is not guaranteed to be on school time.
According to Lisa Atwood in March of 2011, then Harwood Union Middle School/High School associate principal, "To my knowledge algebra will be offered in eighth grade. There has been no discussion to discontinue this opportunity at this time…." Adding that, "If this were to be considered, we would put an email out to parents and hold a meeting to allow for their input. It would be well advertised as central office staff would be involved."
In fact, no notice was given to Harwood Union parents prior to this significant curriculum change.
In an environment where NECAP math performance has been declining, a better course of action would be to increase academic rigor overall, rather than make it more difficult for accelerated students to learn to their abilities.
This new direction also seems counter to Governor Shumlin's new mandate calling for all Vermont students to take both algebra and geometry. In this case, we have students who want to get a jump on algebra being met with new and needless obstacles.
It seems to me that the winning combination for challenging and supporting all Harwood eighth-graders is to tailor the math curriculum to targeted abilities, including eighth-graders with the grades, aptitude and motivation to complete algebra 1 in eighth grade, without requiring those students to take the class on their own time.