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.

Students learning math at Daves Avenue Elementary School. Patch file photo
Students learning math at Daves Avenue Elementary School. Patch file photo

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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Gary Hinze January 18, 2014 at 12:01 AM
I agree with dude. Teach your kids to learn. Teach them to use the library. Buy books, encourage them to buy books. Encourage them to talk to people who do things. Motivation is the single most important thing for learning. When they find something they like, they will figure out how to learn about it. Today we have vast amounts of information and access to resources on the Internet. Don't let a bunch of politicians and bureaucrats decide what your kids will learn.
old neighbor dude January 20, 2014 at 02:49 PM
Gary, you are so correct but sadly it's quite the opposite around here. So many people in our area think that throwing money around solves their problems when in reality they are just creating new ones. We'll all be in a much better place when kids begin to look at education as lot more than just going to school.
Manish Vaidya January 22, 2014 at 01:24 AM
As a parent of a elementary school child, I am very concerned about the proposed plan to drop accelerated math from the middle school curriculum. I am a big proponent of common core standards. However I do no think we have to sacrifice 3 tier math classes to implement Common Core. Middle school is a critical learning time for kids & we need to reinstate advanced math programs at middle school level. This will enable our students to graduate high school with higher level math & get into great colleges. Additionally this would most likely improve school API's across the district & lead to increased real-estate values for everybody
Anonnie Muss January 23, 2014 at 07:31 PM
I'm a current senior at LGHS, and I have to say that taking geometry in 8th grade was probably the only thing keeping me sane in middle school. While in middle school, I had to double up on school, taking online science classes outside just so that I wouldn't be bored to death. My family did exactly what Gary and Dude suggested, but I had other activities that I had to sacrifice to get a basic education that should've been provided by the school I attend for the majority of the day. I am a huge advocate for RJF's "focus" on emphasizing STEM subjects, but it's completely hypocritical to "promote STEM" and take away an advanced mathematics track. Eliminating an advanced math track puts us far, far behind both private schools and public schools who aren't getting rid of their accelerated track. I have found that advanced math matters throughout your child's future, too. It is critical especially for STEM internship opportunities in high school, which in turn may affect college applications. Frankly, you're not going to be competitive if you're in Trig at LGHS and a kid from Palo Alto applying to the same program is done with Calc AB or even BC. This isn't about accelerating for the sake of accelerating - it's keeping kids who enjoy math engaged in their school (wonder why people fall asleep in class?) and helping prepared kids for a future STEM career in high school and college!


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