Survey: Teachers do not favor “integrated” math in high schools

An overwhelming majority of teachers are not in favor of the way math is taught to high school students in Georgia, according to a recent survey conducted for the state Board of Education.

The survey released last week was used to determine whether high school math teachers preferred algebra and geometry to be taught as separate courses – or a more “traditional” model – or for concepts from multiple math areas to be rolled into one course and taught in an “integrated” fashion.

The vast majority of high school math teachers surveyed – some 84 percent – were not in favor of the integrated model, which is what’s currently taught in high schools.

The issue over the method of teaching math in high schools has been debated in recent months, with Fulton County schools superintendent Robert Avossa and other education leaders pushing for schools to be able to teach the more traditional model.

Fulton district leaders say students are struggling with the subject, and Avossa argues the state’s “integrated” method of teaching math in high school – which combines three disciplines such as geometry, algebra and data probability — is not preparing students well enough for college math.

The integrated teaching method has been debated among educators since its implementation in Georgia classrooms in 2008. The change marked a shift by state education leaders from the more traditional approach, which focuses primarily on one kind of math in each course.

Some school districts rallied against the change, and current state superintendent John Barge gave districts a choice of traditional or integrated, with two options for End of Course Tests. But when Common Core performance standards were rolled out and implemented, the choice went away.

Georgia’s End of Course Tests for high schoolers assess math on the integrated model. The state is planning a new standardized testing system for this school year.

State education leaders are conducting a review of all standards, based on Gov. Nathan Deal’s request last year. That review should be completed and any recommended changes – including those to math — brought to the state board by the end of the year, state education leaders say.