New Math Curriculum Promises to Enrich Walpole Math Department


Walpole High School’s Math MCAS results

Mary Hinton

Walpole High School's Math MCAS results
Walpole High School’s Math MCAS results

In order to meet changes in the Massachusetts Frameworks, the Walpole High School Math Department is beginning a new math curriculum, starting with next year’s freshmen – the Class of 2017.  The new program will enable virtually all students to take calculus their senior year, rather than just those students who were enrolled in geometry as freshmen.

Regardless of what math students take as eighth graders, they will all enroll in algebra I as freshmen.  Algebra I Honors has been added to the program in addition to the already existing CP1 and CP2 classes.  As sophomores, all students will take geometry at either the Honors, CP1 or CP2 level.  Junior students will enroll in algebra II, with the option of additionally taking statistics.  Then, as seniors, most students will take calculus, while some will additonally take statistics or math models instead.  Most students will be able to take calculus as a senior, except some who may feel unready and want to take pre-calculus instead to prepare for a college calculus class.

The new eighth grade math curriculum contains a lot of material from algebra I, so the class will contain many algebra II concepts, and algebra II will incorporate most of the matter in precalculus.

  Precalculus will therefore be eliminated from the math curriculum, and most students will go directly from algebra II to calculus.  Math department head,  Mr. David Passeggio, said he hopes that the new curriculum will “better prepare [students] for standardized tests, placement exams, the study of more advanced mathematics, and practical application of mathematics in their lives regardless of their academic or career path.”

With the new curriculum, almost all students will have taken calculus by their senior year, rather than just those students who were enrolled in advanced math in middle school.  In sixth grade all students will take sixth grade math, rather than just some students taking seventh grade math.

One of the primary goals of the new curriculum is to not only help students learn better, but to help them achieve better scores on standardized test such as the MCAS or SAT’s.  In 2012, fifty-six percent of students (160 students) of tenth graders at Walpole High School received an advanced grade, thirty-one percent ( 87 students) received a proficient grade, nine percent (25 students) received a needs improvement, five percent (13 students) received a warning or failing grade.  While these scores are better than the statewide scores, and more students achieved advanced in math than in English, there were more students who failed the math MCAS than the English MCAS, as only one percent (4 students) failed the English MCAS in Walpole.

The new math curriculum that is starting for the class of 2017 plans to provide a more rigorous study of mathematics to help students prepare for the future. Passegio said, “By raising the bar on our curriculum, we will better prepare students for standardized tests and placement exams.”