By Vera Lin
This year, the freshmen class is experiencing a different math curriculum from the curriculum older students are familiar with. This new curriculum is part of the Common Core, a national program aimed at bringing all the schools in the country together under a consistent educational goals. This program ensures that students in different states will be learning the same material.
One of the main focuses of the Common Core is to raise the standards of the nation’s math curriculum. “Over the years, the standards have lost their way,” says Ms. Cassazone, head of the math department. Common Core exams are supposed to be more vigorous and challenging for students compared to the exams in the previous curriculum. For instance, the Algebra I Regents exam came with a heavy curve that could raise a low raw score to a much higher grade. “I think that this Common Core is a good thing, especially for a school like ours,” Ms. Cassazone said. “The Regents needed to be more vigorous so that there could be a more definitive line between honors and regular students. The Advanced Regents Diploma should be something difficult to attain rather than something everyone is getting.”
The path of the new common curriculum is not too different from the previous curriculum. Freshmen first learn Algebra I, and then proceed to take Geometry, Algebra II, and Pre-calculus. The main difference is the new topics covered in these courses. According to Ms. Cassazone, the new geometry curriculum will cover a more in-depth study on topics such as transformational constructions. There will be a little trigonometry in the new Algebra II course; however, most trig will be covered in Pre-calculus. “The Common Core will allow for students to go deeper into topics, which we can’t do in the old curriculum,” Ms. Cassazone said.
This year, the only students affected by the Common Core are freshmen who are currently taking Algebra I. Freshmen in accelerated math, who are currently taking Geometry, will not be involved in the Common Core. Accelerated freshmen are the last group of students who will not be affected by the new curriculum.
The new Common Core curriculum is being pioneered by this year’s freshmen class. Much has yet to be discovered about how this curriculum will actually affect and benefit students. How the freshmen respond to the new curriculum will be an important indicator as to how much of an impact the Common Core will have on future high school math students.