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Lower Merion School District

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FAQs

What is Integrated Math?
Integrated Math is a way of presenting the same topics we currently teach in Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2 in a different order. Integrated Math incorporates concepts from Algebra, Geometry, and Statistics in each of the three years instead of teaching them separately. Integrated math courses are typically called Integrated Math 1, Integrated Math 2, and Integrated Math 3 and are the way most countries outside of the United States approach math instruction.

Why are we shifting to delivering math in this way?
Our strategic plan focuses on preparing students to be global citizens through a transformative curriculum. The mathematics community outside of the United States approaches math instruction and learning through an integrated approach. Our current math program in grades K-7 teaches math concepts in an integrated fashion, and again in Pre-Calculus and beyond. It doesn’t make sense for us to teach math concepts separately and in silos for the three years in between.

How does this change benefit students?
Students will experience how math concepts interact with each other rather than learning them as separate unrelated topics. Another benefit is that all students will have three years to master what is currently taught in Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 while connecting those topics to Geometry, Data Analysis, and Graphing. The goal is to develop students who are strong problem solvers and critical thinkers.

How will this be phased in? What if I’ve already taken Algebra 1 or Geometry?
Students who have already begun the traditional pathway will continue on that pathway. This is the only way to avoid gaps and to ensure that students have been exposed to all of the necessary math topics prior to Pre-Calculus. The Integrated Math pathway will begin with students who have successfully completed Pre-Algebra or Algebra 1 Part 1. Each year we will add another Integrated math course until Integrated Math 1, Integrated Math 2, and Integrated Math 3 replace Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2.

Will this new sequence prevent or slow down getting to Calculus?
No. The Integrated approach provides greater access for our traditional math students while not slowing down the pathway for our most accelerated students. 

If we are already achieving at high levels on the Algebra 1 Keystone, why would we change our curricular approach?
While our Algebra Keystone scores continue to be some of the best in the state, our Math PSSA tests have not shown similar results. The disconnect is that the Math PSSA is an integrated math test and the majority of our students are enrolled in a non-integrated Algebra 1 or Geometry class. Our goal is to deliver mathematics in a way that creates connections for students between and among the different areas of mathematics, while at the same time increasing our overall levels of student growth and achievement.

How does this change affect PSSA testing and Keystone Exams?
Currently the majority of our students take the 8th Grade PSSA and Algebra 1 Keystone Exam in the same year. This change would shift the Algebra 1 Keystone Exam to the 9th grade year for the majority of students (after Integrated Math 2) and in doing so would largely eliminate the double testing of math that occurs in the middle schools now.

Will these integrated courses be offered at the Honors level?
Yes. There will be an Honors level of these courses offered at both high schools.

Do colleges recognize these Integrated math classes?
Colleges are very familiar with these courses as the majority of the world approaches math through an integrated lens. Locally, private schools like The Hill School, and public schools like Colonial, utilize this approach.

Will this change help close the achievement gap?
Based on data shared by other districts who have made this shift, it does appear to have a positive impact on student achievement across all subgroups.

Can I take the Integrated Math classes over the summer for accelerated credit?
The idea behind an integrated approach is to make connections between and among the different areas of mathematics. Those connections cannot be accomplished effectively during a six-week summer course. So, at this time, Integrated Math courses will only be offered for credit recovery.

What if I’m new to the district and was in a traditional sequence elsewhere? 
We will administer a placement test to determine your current level of understanding of Algebra, Geometry, and Statistics to determine which Integrated course will best meet your individual needs.