The Grandview Heights City School District will offer a new, compressed math course in 2017-18 that squeezes a year and a half's worth of learning into a single school year.
The class, designed for fifth-graders who have demonstrated an advanced aptitude for math, will compress all of the content of fifth-grade mathematics and more than half of the content of the sixth-grade math class into one course.
"We have a large number of students who are high achievers in math, and that's shown in their classwork as well as their performances on state achievement tests and the MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) assessments we administer through the school year," said Chief Academic Officer Jamie Lusher.
At the end of the last school year, 21 fourth-graders had demonstrated on the MAP assessments a proficiency of math at a sixth-grade level, Lusher said.
That number represents almost exactly 25 percent of the fourth-grade class, she said.
"What you don't want to do is have those students becoming disenchanted with math because the coursework isn't challenging to them," Lusher said.
"You'd like to strike a balance where a class is neither too hard or too easy for a student," said fourth-grade math teacher Liz McClellan. "The compacted class will be challenging to these students, but it will be something they can handle."
Students and their parents will decide if the new class is for them, Lusher said. The course's lessons will move at a faster pace than standard math classes, she said.
"There's no doubt this class will mean a more challenging workload with increased responsibilities and expectations for students," Lusher said.
Potential candidates for the class have been identified through their scores on the state achievement and MAP assessments as well as through teacher recommendations, she said.
For the past six years, the district has offered compacted 6/7 and 7/8 math classes, Lusher said.
Last year, 12 sixth-graders were enrolled in the 6/7 compact math class and 32 seventh-grade students took the 7/8 class.
The plan is to develop a compacted 4/5 class for fourth-grade students with an advanced proficiency in math starting in the 2018-19 school year, she said.
The compacted classes help pave the way for students to continue to progress and take advanced math classes all the way through to college calculus during their senior year of high school, Lusher said.
McClellan said she believes there are several reasons why so many students are high math achievers in Grandview.
"There is more attention being paid to developing number sense at a younger age in students," she said.
That leads to some students being able to develop an earlier skill in problem-solving, McClellan said.
The Genius Hour projects at Edison Intermediate/Larson Middle School, in which fourth-graders research and come up with solutions to community issues or topics that interest them, involve problem-solving that can be applied to similar lessons in math, she said.
Even the fourth-grade's 40-book reading challenge has benefits in increasing students' reading comprehension and perseverance that can help in math class, McClellan said.
The math teachers at Edison/Larson have been working to develop the 5/6 compacted class curriculum during the summer break, Lusher said.
School board members approved adding the new course at their June 27 meeting.