IM3 meets Pre-Calc

Early numbers suggest equal levels of success


online-im-graphAs the math department phases out Algebra 2 in favor of Common Core based Integrated Math classes, Honors Pre- Calculus welcomed its first batch of IM student this fall. This semester also offers the final Algebra 2 course the school will offer for the foreseeable future.

This action is the final step in completing the transition from Algebra 1, Geometry and Algebra 2, to the Common Core math courses Integrated Math 1, 2 and 3.

While the sample size is small, just nine students having taken IM3 last year and 30 having taken Algebra 2 last year, grades from quarter one suggest that IM3 and Algebra 2 students are similarly prepared. While Algebra 2 students were more likely to excel, with over half boasting an A, they were also more likely to struggle, as no IM3 students recorded a D or F – compared to three Ds coming from students who had previously taken Algebra 2.

Junior Brandon Walker, who took Algebra 2 before enrolling in Honors Pre-Calc, is grateful for his experience in the non-IM curriculum.

“I feel that going from a Common Core to a non-Common Core class would be extremely difficult,” Walker said. “So I am very glad I was able to do Algebra 2, instead of having to go through Common Core.”

Roseville High School does not offer a Common Core equivalent of Honors Pre-Calc or AP Calc.

Still, AP Calc and IM3 teacher Michelle Walton has confidence in specific skillsets that IM students develop.

“They’re much better at taking an equation and graphing it,” Walton said. “They’re also better at interpreting math in context, like what it means to represent a problem. But they sometimes are not as strong solving things algebraically.”

The difference in curriculum between IM classes and Honors Pre-Calc does not worry Honors Pre-Calc teacher David Ray.

“It’s an adjustment period for all of us – students and teachers alike,” Ray said.

Sophomore Donovan Jones, who took Honors Pre-Calc after IM3, felt more at home in Honors Pre-Calc once Ray began teaching concepts similar to Common Core.

“It was pretty difficult in the beginning, because we did a lot of Algebra 2 review, but once we started doing IM3 stuff, it got easier,” Jones said.

In Ray’s current Honors Pre-Calc classes, 56 percent of the IM students got a B in the first quarter, while 50 percent of the Algebra students got an A.

According to Schmatjen, the district is working on reconfiguring Pre-Calc so that it is aligned more like IM courses, rather than the traditional algebra classes.

In addition to reconfiguring Pre-Calc, the RHS math department staff is considering changing the names of the calculus courses: Honors Pre-Calculus may become Pre-Calculus, and the current CP Pre-Calc may become “Math Analysis” or “College Algebra.”

“They will basically be the same courses, but there’s been some discrepancies,” Walton said. “Because right now, our Pre-Calc class doesn’t lead to Calculus, you have to go to Honors Pre-Calc. That’s been the only reason to consider changing the names: to clarify that a little bit.”

According to IM3 teacher Sandra Schmatjen, the district is working on reconfiguring Pre-Calc so that the class is aligned more like the IM courses, rather than the traditional algebra classes.

“They are working on altering it, but there isn’t supposed to be a class between IM3 and Pre-Calc,” Schmatjen said.

Ray still finds a lot of merit in the Algebra 2 focus in order to prepare students for AP Calc class.

“If you asked basically any calculus teacher how you spell calculus, they would say A-L-G-E-B-R-A; and what that means is your algebra skills have to be really good to go into Calculus,” Ray said. “It’s the algebra in calculus that really troubles people more than the calculus itself.”

Regardless, however, Ray feels confident in his ability to prepare students for next step, regardless of their educational history in math.

“Since I’ve been teaching 20 years, it’s my job to get a feel for the students and what they know and find out what they don’t know and plug in those holes.” Ray said. “So that’s what I do within the first two days.”