Middle School Math Curriculum

Updating Our Math Curriculum

As we continuously strive to enhance the educational experience for our students, we want to share news regarding updates to our 6th-8th grade math curriculum. Beginning in the 2024–25 school year, we will shift away from a compacted math sequence where students learn four years of mathematics in three years of middle school to a non-compacted course sequence focused on grade-level math content instruction.

Some Key Takeaways

The decision to shift our middle school math scope and sequence for 2024–25 was made based on five factors: 

  • newly released and adopted Wisconsin standards for mathematics,
  • current research, 
  • student outcomes, 
  • grade-level standards, 
  • and data collection and review from our careholders.

These updates will allow our mathematics teaching and learning to go deeper into each standard, focusing on critical areas for each grade level that will provide a strong foundation for high school (and beyond) mathematics. 

  • In grade 6: Ratios and proportional relationships, and early algebraic expressions and equations 
  • In grade 7: Ratios and proportional relationships and arithmetic of rational numbers 
  • In grade 8: Linear algebra and linear functions

We engaged our expert staff in the decision making process. This transition has been led by math teachers across our middle schools.

Steering Committee Investment:

  • 42 staff members engaged in 4K-12 Math Steering Committee work over the past two years, including teachers, instructional coaches, and site and district administrators
  • 12 Steering Committee meetings held across the past two years as Years 1 and 2 work

In total, our steering committee invested 936 hours into work including the development of a vision statement, comprehensive qualitative data collection and review, quantitative data review and analysis, Catalyzing Change book study, math standards adoption, and essential standards selection.

We are committed to creating equitable structures in our math experience, ensuring that every student learns the essential concepts, and will not track students into qualitatively different pathways. 

There are multiple pathways and opportunities for students to accelerate their math coursework in high school. Students who want to get through AP Calculus and/or AP Statistics for their college or careers may still do so by taking concurrent courses. 

  • One example - 
    • Algebra 1
    • Geometry 
    • Algebra 2 and Pre-Calculus Compacted
    • AP Calculus or Calculus AB/BC Compacted and/or AP Statistics

Additionally, students may choose from several STEM courses in our middle and high schools and apply to our STEM Academy program for dual enrollment at Madison College for their Junior and Senior years.

Finally, our math steering committee is beginning to research math course pathway options for high school and will communicate with parents and caregivers next year. 

Advanced Learning Program

Please note: The District has a process for parents/caregivers and teachers to request a conversation and assessment for potential subject acceleration through the Advanced Learning Program. That process remains unchanged with this update. Parents/caregivers and/or educators interested in considering a referral for subject acceleration should contact their building’s Advanced Learning Teacher.

Why are we making this change?

Every six years, a team of educators from our Sun Prairie Area Schools and district office embark on a thorough curriculum renewal and design process to ensure our students receive the highest quality education. This process involves integrating various components to create a comprehensive and effective curriculum. We are writing to inform you of this year’s updates, stemming from five key areas. These five areas are demonstrated below, and further detail is provided thereafter:

Circular graphic detailing the six-year cycle of math curriculum renewal & design
Circular graphic detailing the six-year cycle of math curriculum renewal & design in Spanish

Wisconsin Standards for Mathematics Release (2021)

We are aligning our curriculum with the latest Wisconsin Standards for Mathematics released in 2021. Our district adopted these standards in the spring of 2023. By adhering to them, we ensure our students have the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed academically and beyond.

Qualitative Data Collection

Through qualitative data collection methods, including student interviews and surveys of math teachers, parents, caregivers, and community business partners, we gained valuable insights into areas where our current curriculum could be enhanced. This data-driven approach has enabled us to tailor our curriculum to better meet the needs of our students. You can see a summary of our data collection results, which were previously shared here

Student Outcome Data

Our student outcome data reveals that our math achievement levels are below the state average and have been unchanging in recent years. By closely examining student performance, we can make targeted adjustments to enhance learning outcomes for all students. 

Focus on Grade-Level Instruction

We recognize the importance of providing grade-level instruction that is developmentally appropriate, aligned to our adopted standards, and engaging for students. The new standards significantly narrow and deepen the way time and energy are spent. This means focusing deeply on the major work of each grade as follows: 

  • In grade 6: Ratios and proportional relationships, and early algebraic expressions and equations 
  • In grade 7: Ratios and proportional relationships and arithmetic of rational numbers 
  • In grade 8: Linear algebra and linear functions 

This focus will help students gain strong foundations, including a solid understanding of concepts to support their mathematical experiences. 

Current Research

Understanding current research in the field of mathematics education has been integral to our curriculum renewal process. By incorporating the latest research findings and best practices into our curriculum design, we ensure that our students benefit from evidence-based instructional strategies.

These five components have been carefully integrated into our curriculum renewal process, resulting in a shift in our math programming that focuses on deepening our students’ understanding, creating experiences that connect standards across grade levels and domains, and aligning with their needs. We are confident that these updates will foster a deeper understanding and strengthen our students’ identity around mathematics. 

We are committed to partnering with you to support your student's academic success. If you have any questions or would like further information about the updates, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Thank you for your continued support and collaboration.

Dr. Sarah Chaja-Clardy
Director of Secondary Teaching, Learning, and Equity

Dr. Lexi Vanden Heuvel
4K-12 Math Coordinator