Holliston Advances Discussion on Algebra 1 Course for Eighth Grade

In a recent Holliston School Committee meeting, attention was focused on the advancement of the district’s mathematics curriculum, specifically the proposal to offer a full-year Algebra 1 course to eighth graders by the 2025-2026 school year. This move aims to provide accelerated learning pathways and address concerns over the need for equitable access to advanced math education. The committee also heard updates on professional development, curriculum reviews, and the importance of supporting students with external math resources. Additionally, initiatives on substance use education, the receipt of a grant for genocide education, the revision of the school calendar, and the review of a collaborative agreement with another district were discussed.

The meeting began with a robust dialogue around the mathematics curriculum with a focus on the potential offering of an Algebra 1 course to eighth graders. The discussion underlined the urgency of decisions regarding the structure of algebra courses, emphasizing the need for teaching the necessary standards for students to progress to high school geometry by ninth grade. Speakers highlighted the importance of equity in mathematics education, stressing that meeting students at their current level and providing pathways to advanced learning is critical.

An update on professional development within the district followed, with a presentation on the use of a template for aligning professional development days with the strategic plan and state standards. Feedback from these sessions revealed a demand for more collaboration time to align standards and transfer skills. The discussion also touched on the use of Understanding by Design (UbD) in the district.

The committee examined progress in curriculum reviews across World Languages, STEM, and ELA, following Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education guidelines. A math community survey was presented, indicating that a significant percentage of parents have sought math support or enrichment outside of school, primarily through private tutoring. This insight sheds light on the reliance on external resources for students’ math education and the disparities in access to such support.

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The selection of curricular resources was discussed, with the committee expressing the need for materials that cater to the needs of all learners, including special education students and English language learners. Research on the leveling of advanced courses led to the proposal of forming an after-school math education study group to analyze subgroup performance and assess curricular and instructional effectiveness. Debates ensued over the implementation timeline for potential changes, highlighting the need to balance instructional advancement with practical considerations for teacher workload and curriculum adjustments.

The committee also addressed leveling within the math curriculum, debating the impact of adding more levels. The emphasis was on ensuring proper support and collaboration among teachers to foster equity in access to STEM courses. Suggestions were made to establish a target date for offering Algebra 1 in eighth grade and to approach the curriculum changes with a goal-oriented mindset.

Further discussions included the school calendar for the upcoming year, proposing a half day for students on the first day of school, with teachers using the remainder of the day for training. This would result in fewer half days throughout the year while maintaining the required number of school days for students and teachers. Revisions to the collaborative agreement with another district were discussed, with changes to membership conditions and non-discrimination policies, which the committee voted to accept.

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Additionally, the committee touched on community events and initiatives, such as the successful Unified Basketball game, a town hall discussion on anti-Semitism and white nationalism, and updates on capital projects. The challenges of the current budget year were highlighted, with an acknowledgment of the potential need for an operational override.

Personnel updates, upcoming subcommittee meetings, and budget discussions were addressed. The superintendent’s update on the central office was mentioned, but details were not available. The committee also deliberated on adjusting the timeline for goal submissions and the appointment of a liaison for cafeteria worker negotiations.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Superintendent:
Dr. Susan Kustka
School Board Officials:
Daniel Alfred, Dawn Neborsky, Amanda Bigelow, Sarah Fitzgerald, Minnie Gupta, Lisa Kocian, Cynthia Listewnik

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