Cary News

Wake to accelerate more students to higher math classes

Wake County school administrators announced Thursday that they’re easing back on a change that would have prevented some academically gifted elementary school students from taking more advanced math courses this fall.

Wake had been telling elementary school students that they wouldn’t be able to take a math course that’s more advanced than the grade level they’re in because North Carolina is transitioning into a more rigorous math curriculum.

But Deputy Superintendent Cathy Moore told school board members Thursday that the school system is grandfathering students who were already being accelerated into harder courses this past school year.

The news was welcomed by Carman Webb, whose 10-year-old daughter, Karissa, has been taking math with older students since kindergarten. Wake had told Karissa, a rising fifth-grader at West Lake Elementary School near Apex, that she wouldn’t be allowed to take sixth-grade math at the adjoining West Lake Middle School this fall.

“I’m glad a common-sense solution was found,” Carman Webb said.

North Carolina is one of 45 states, along with the District of Columbia, that has adopted “common core standards” for math and language arts.

New math tests will require students to demonstrate critical-thinking skills instead of just filling in blanks as answers. They will have to explain how they solved problems. Less time will be spent repeating materials.

Concepts historically taught in upper grades will be introduced earlier to students.

School administrators have said they’re worried that elementary school students will skip material if they accelerate too quickly. Most students would wait until middle school before they begin taking accelerated math instruction.

Some school board members said they’re worried that Thursday’s announcement still won’t help elementary students hoping to begin taking the accelerated math this fall.

“Not everyone learns at the same rate, and we have a lot of students who frankly find our standard course of study and, I guarantee, the common core absolutely not challenging,” said board member Jim Martin.