The William S. Hart Union High School District governing board approved three new mathematics courses Wednesday night under its consent calendar for the purpose of supporting newcomer students who may lack certain foundational math skills to succeed in algebra.
The state Department of Education defines a newcomer student as a newly arrived student from outside of the country. These newcomer students might need additional support in acclimating to the language, culture and expectations of being in school.
“We just introduced them, actually, recently,” said Deputy Director of Educational Services Michael Vierra. “What we’re finding out is we’re getting a greater number of newcomers to our schools.”
Vierra added these students sometimes either have little formal education, there are gaps in their education or they haven’t been in school in a while.
According to the Hart district’s agenda, the three courses included Newcomer Math Foundations A/B for grades 9 through 12, Newcomer Math Foundation JH A/B for grades 7 and 8, and Newcomer Algebra Foundations A/B for grades 9 through 12.
The Newcomer Math Foundations A/B and JH A/B will focus on the foundational skills necessary for the diverse needs of the students in order to prepare them for the subsequent math courses required for graduation. Additionally, students will learn and use math language necessary for their overall English language development.
The Newcomer Algebra Foundations A/B course has the same focus as the other two courses with the distinction that it’s an algebra course.
“It’s really to fill in the gaps, build their skills, so that they can pass algebra and even higher math courses, and graduate from our schools,” Vierra said.
The district has set up the Newcomer Math Foundation course for ninth through 12th grades to be fluid, which means students who are doing well have the opportunity to move up to the newcomer algebra course.
Though the courses help students understand the math language and terms, the main purpose is for students to understand the math concepts.
Vierra said these courses have already been established at Hart High School and Golden Valley High School, and now they are looking to adopt them at other school sites.
The district also uses IXL, an internet-based math program that students can work on from home. District staff can pull data from it and assess how students progress.
“And so, you know, we are fitting within our strategic plan that we want our students leaving our district to be able to pursue whatever they want to pursue,” Vierra said.