Integrated math is still on hold in D86

The four newly elected Hinsdale High School District 86 Board members still are uncertain as to whether they will support a move to teach integrated math in the district.

The board spent more than two hours at their May 26 meeting listening to a presentation from the math team and discussing the curriculum change, which was approved by the previous board in October.

The integrated curriculum would weave algebra 1, geometry and algebra 2 into three courses titled Math 1, 2 and 3. Team members said the change allows students to see the connections between the five domains — number and quantities, algebra, functions, geometry and statistics — and meets the needs of students at all ability levels.

“We’re not buying new furniture. We’re taking the existing furniture and re-arranging it,” said Kurt Vonnahme, math department chair at Hinsdale Central.

But new board members were not convinced.

“I am not ready to join the side of the integrated math,” Debbie Levinthal said. “I just don’t see that there is enough compelling evidence.

“A case has not been made overwhelmingly that this is going to improve our outcomes from where I sit,” she added. “I would like time to digest the information.”

Board President Terri Walker agreed.

“My preference would be to take a little more time to review it and honestly consider staying with the traditional math pathway with appropriate updates and adding in key concepts as needed,” Walker said.

Board members Peggy James and Jeff Waters concurred.

The three board members who voted for the move to integrated math in October — Cynthia Hanson, Erik Held and Kathleen Hirsman — stood by their decision.

“I do not see, especially after the questions, the research, the presentations, that we should say, ‘Well, that’s all well and good but again it’s not done here,’ or ‘I just don’t think it’s right,’ ” Held said. “The board already passed this in October. The board doesn’t need to pass it again.”

Hirsman agreed.

“I have the information to support the decision, to affirm the decision I made back in October,” she said.

Board members did agree that the math team should continue aligning AP courses at Hinsdale Central and Hinsdale South, developing additional fourth-year math courses and developing a quantitative reasoning and functional relationships course for students who are not ready to enroll in algebra 1 as freshman.

The new board has yet to decide whether or not to eliminate Central’s G-level courses; the courses are no longer taught at South.

The topic will be on the agenda again at the board’s Wednesday, June 9, meeting.

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean