these high school programs designed for students who have had similar
programs in their previous years of schooling?
no. None of these high school programs assume that students will
have had "reform" curricula at a previous level in school.
In fact, these programs anticipate the need to accommodate an increase
in the level of student expectations and classroom dynamics for
students entering these programs from more traditional programs.
(That was the status quo during the development of these programs.)
There are advantages, of course, for students who have had standards-based
curricula in middle or elementary school, particularly if the experience
was with integrated curricula and students were actively involved
in the classroom. The NSF-funded elementary and middle school programs
provide excellent examples of such curricula. For more information
on these curricula at the other school levels, go to Resources.
Won't it be difficult for students who for
some external reason must transfer into (or out of) the middle of
one of these programs from (or to) a more traditional program?
~ Let's begin by facing facts. A transition between any curricula
is hard for a student. These curricula do not alleviate the situation.
It will be hard for a student in a more traditional program to transfer
into the "middle" of one of these standards-based curricula,
because expectations are higher and there may be material that a
student has not had (e.g. material in probability and statistics).
There is one ameliorating factor, however. All of these programs
involve some group work and it has been the experience of the program
developers that in classes where new students enter, the "older"
students are more willing to help the newer student.
This is effective not only because the newer student is being helped
by peers, but also the "older" students tend to gain greater
understanding of the mathematics material as they communicate it
to the newer student. Comparatively, experience indicates that it
will be easier for a student in one of the COMPASS-affiliated curricula
to enter a more traditional curriculum because of the habits of
mind engendered by these curricula. That is, students in the COMPASS-affiliated
curricula tend to be more independent learners, and more willing
than their traditional counterparts to tackle problems they have
not had before.
Will students in these programs be prepared
for Advanced Placement (AP) classes?
~ In field test situations, students who have completed three years
of these programs do at least as well as their traditional counterparts
in AP Calculus. Students who have completed four years of one of
these programs do even better. As with any curricular change, schools
that implement one of these new programs must communicate changes
in content materials to AP teachers.
For example, in some of these curricula a student may have had
some experience with linear slope as a rate of change, the concept
of limits, and/or the concept of the derivative. On the other hand,
in some programs students may not have had formal experience with
logarithmic functions. Students in the COMPASS-affiliated programs
do far better than their traditional counterparts in AP statistics.
(One reason is that the students are already familiar with much
of the statistics content.)
Do the students from these new integrated
programs have difficulty with college acceptance by admissions officers
who aren't familiar with such programs?
~There is a large and growing number of colleges and universities
that have become familiar with the programs and who accept them
in the normal part of their admissions process. Even though these
programs are reaching or have reached the commercial market fairly
recently, they were field-tested in a large number of schools which
have sent their graduates on to college.
Please e-mail COMPASS
if you want more specific information or assistance.
There is a lot more reading in these materials
than in traditional programs. Is this an additional obstacle to
~ It has always been the case that reading comprehension is correlated
to success in mathematics. These materials may simply be highlighting
the issue. It is a myth that removing words from mathematics textbooks
somehow increases understanding of mathematics.
Indeed, there is evidence to suggest the reverse. The reading level
has not been an issue in field-test experience (see the next question).
In fact, the reading seems to increase student interest and attention.
These curricula were supposed to be developed
for all students. Do they really work for all students?
~ Yes. All of these programs have been tested in heterogeneous
classes, both in terms of socio-economic status and ability grouping.
That is, they have been tested in inner city, suburban, and rural
settings. Field-test classes had a mix of students who might have
been grouped differently had they been tracked.
Students have been successful in these settings and there is evidence
to suggest these students often voluntarily take additional mathematics