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By Collin Breaux

Capistrano Unified School District is exploring options for math instruction for students, particularly those in the fifth and sixth grades.

The CUSD Board of Trustees heard an informational presentation on the topic during a board meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 19. Options for consideration included focusing on fifth-grade standards in fifth grade, rather than introducing sixth-grade content and increasing support to middle school students for accelerated education.

“We want to focus on fifth-grade standards in fifth grade, based on the fact that our data shows that our students still need continued exposure and support in fifth-grade standards,” said Susan Holliday, associate superintendent of Education Services.

Recommended options for additional support include an extension for elementary school students through focusing on fifth-grade standards and maintaining current middle school math pathway options.

“Fifth grade needs more time to develop deep understanding of math concepts,” an informational slide presented at the meeting on the options said.

With the middle school option, an informational slide said the current model allows schools to offer geometry in eighth grade and that any other model would require the compacting of four years of standards into two years of instruction.

Such compacting “would create master scheduling challenges and does not have the support of our teaching staff,” an informational slide said.

Trustees discussed various aspects of math and advanced education, including Advanced Placement and math education not necessarily being representative of the entire student body population, students being discouraged from STEM careers because they don’t have necessary math skills and some students being naturally inclined toward math.

The Board of Trustees did not vote on anything related to the matter, because the presentation was an informational item only.

Math education options are expected to come before the Board of Trustees again in the future, and further discussions on the topic will be held.

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