MEMBERS OF the Reading Garden Club volunteered their time on Friday to put in a large number of new plantings outside Reading Town Hall. Shown here helping with the plantings are (l-r) Tiffany Keyes, Andy Slezal, and  Donnan Barnes. Bill Ryerson photo

READING - A group of 18 parents have signed a letter detailing their unhappiness with math curriculum changes implemented in the Reading middle schools.

The full text of the letter can be found on page A2 of today's edition of the Reading Daily Times Chronicle. The parents intend to raise their concerns in front of the full School Committee at its next meeting, scheduled for Monday, July 22.

The Reading Public School District recently implemented changes to the math curriculum due to Common Core standards, and many parents in recent weeks have expressed a belief the changes will not prepare their children for college.

Common core algebra I is now taught in ninth grade instead of eighth grade, meaning seniors in high school will take pre-calculus instead of calculus.

The letter signed by the 18 parents reads, in part, "We are alarmed by the math curriculum changes that were implemented in the Reading middle schools during the 2012-2013 school year with virtually no public input or prior notification. These changes mean that only those few students (fewer than 15% per year) who test into the highest math track at the end of sixth grade will be able to take algebra in middle school, putting them on track to take calculus in high school. The other 85% of students would be denied access to algebra in middle school and a straight path to calculus in high school, which would put them at a significant disadvantage for college admissions and for pursuing studies in STEM (Science, Technology Engineering, Math) and other fields. This is especially unfair, when up until last year most middle school students had the opportunity to take algebra in 8th grade.

The school district has proposed several options for students who are not in the highest track to get to calculus in high school, all of which have serious flaws.

Parents are also concerned about the Common Core curriculum math instruction methods which were introduced this past school year. These methods are new and unproven and involve only a few practice problems each night (2-4 was typical in 7th grade), but often with long written explanations required. Currently there are no textbooks or written materials available, so students lack reference materials to consult when they do not fully grasp a topic in class. Also, with so few homework problems, it is extremely difficult for students to achieve mastery of any topic.

Concerned parents have asked the district to provide options that would allow a majority of students the chance to reach algebra in middle school leading to calculus in high school, without the need for doubling up or taking a summer course. So far, these requests have been denied."

Today’s letter follows one that was published from a parent on Friday, which also questioned the curriculum changes.

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