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8th-Grade Geometry Cut Causes Controversy in Los Gatos Schools

Superintendent Diana Abbati said Los Gatos math teachers and administrators, working with Common Core math experts, have designed new math programs for middle-school students.

8th-Grade Geometry Cut Causes Controversy in Los Gatos Schools

Los Gatos parents are upset that the Los Gatos Union School District has discontinued geometry in the eighth grade and are now seeking answers from trustees and Superintendent Diana Abbati.

Parent Joe Madden explained in April of 2013 the district held a meeting with parents of fifth-grade students, current sixth-graders, only, because the youth would be the first year to be affected by the change.

The April meeting turned quite hostile and, even though the group was kept small, there were many angry parents, Madden said.

Since then, other parents have learned about the change but there have been no public meetings to discuss this topic, Madden said.

Los Gatos High School Principal Marcus Autrey held a meeting Nov. 22, 2013 to show options for students to “catch up” if they didn’t get a chance to learn geometry in eighth-grade, Madden said.

"Basically they suggest either summer school or online courses, to get back on track for calculus," Madden said.

“This is a bewildering decision by LGUSD. Encouraging our advanced students to challenge themselves has been a very successful program in Los Gatos for many years," Madden stated. "Common Core does not prohibit offering high school math topics in eighth grade and other school districts still have eighth-grade geometry programs in place. If Palo Alto can do it, why can’t we?”

In response to Madden's concerns, Superintendent Abbati said Wednesday that California has mandated that all public school districts adopt the Common Core Standards and that the district is working with teachers to manage the transition.

The Common Core Standards give educators new opportunities to create middle-school courses for their students, some of whom may seek accelerated learning, Abbati said.

After many meetings and lots of discussion, Los Gatos math teachers and administrators, working with Common Core math experts, have designed new math programs for middle-school students (including advanced tracks) to ensure all students are prepared for the more rigorous math they will receive in high school, Abbati said.

"Contrary to the information you may have received, geometry skills will be integrated and taught in all sixth, seventh, and eighth grades next year, Abbati said. 

Since the fall of 2012, LGUSD teachers, administrators and trustees have encouraged parents to attend board meetings and parent informational meetings on the transition to the Common Core Standards, Abbati said.

There has been a lot of discussion about this topic and none of the decisions have been made without feedback from the community, she said.

The superintendent noted the district has also made sure to provide information about Common Core on the district curriculum page, which is accessible by clicking here. 

At present, the high school is still working out what content it will include in its Common Core courses based on the standards set by the state, she continued.

The traditional titles of these courses will remain the same, e.g., algebra, geometry, algebra 2, etc., she said.

"Our teachers will continue to provide a smooth transition for our students even as they review new research and adapt courses as required to meet the new state standards," Abbati said.  

The superintendent encouraged the public to attend the March 11 Board of Trustees meeting at the district office, 17010 Roberts Rd., at 6:30 p.m. to hear the district's curriculum department update education officials on the process for adopting Common Core math materials for the 2014-15 school year.


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