All Jamestown eighth- or ninth-grade students, who are beginning their algebra instruction this school year, must take the new Common Core Algebra 1 Regents that will be given for the first time on June 3, 2014. Students will be encouraged to also take the Integrated Algebra Regents on June 20, 2014. The higher of the two scores from both exams will be used for the student's graduation requirements.

JHS' freshmen class entered the school year with one year of Common Core Learning Standards from their eighth-grade math and ELA teachers and took the state assessment in April 2013. The 2013-14 school year is the first time that the Common Core Learning Standards will be fully implemented at the high school level. These standards replaced the 2005 math standards that are assessed on the Integrated Algebra Regents. Students who are currently taking Integrated Algebra are using new classroom resources, called modules, provided by New York state. The modules replace traditional textbooks and meet the requirements of the Common Core Learning Standards.

WHAT IS DIFFERENT ABOUT THE NEW ALGEBRA 1 REGENTS?

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Jamestown High School freshman Evan Lewis completes a warm-up exercise in Michelle Garvin’s Algebra I class where students graphed a line on the coordinate plane to solve for “y.” Mrs. Garvin was teaching a lesson from module 1 in the Algebra I Common Core unit where students solve a system of equations in a graphic format.

Submitted photo

Many of the problems on the Common Core-aligned Algebra I Regents look similar to prior Regents exams. But, for example, word problems are not just asking a student for an answer but also asking them questions like, "Which is the better choice?" and "Why?" or "Justify your answer." Instead of computing the mathematics because that they are told to do it, students are asked to develop deeper understanding and thinking, and explain how they got the answer. Students must show their understanding of math procedures, conceptual understanding and application.

Students will also see multiple-choice questions on the Common Core-aligned Algebra 1 Regents. However, the multiple-choice math questions in the Common Core aligned test are designed to assess and incorporate both standards and math practices in real-world applications and many require the use of multiple skills and concepts. Also, in the past students could sometimes determine the correct answer though the process of elimination. In the new Common Core-aligned Algebra 1 Regents, all of the choices are possible as a result of a student incorrectly computing his or her answer. For example, if a student accidentally performs addition when they were supposed to subtract, that incorrect answer will be among the multiple-choice answers.

"We know that students may struggle with this increased rigor. However, these same students will be applying to colleges or trying to find employment in four, short years. We want our students to be ready for the real world, whether it is to enter college without having to take remedial classes or to obtain a good-paying job and be a productive member of society," said Denise Pusateri, JPS math coordinator. "It is a team effort to see our students succeed and we will work together to help students and parents through this transition period.If a parent is concerned about the Algebra I coursework or the new Regents exam, please contact your child's teacher for more information."