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Topic: New Algebra 2/trig curriculum for 2009-2010
Replies: 11   Last Post: Sep 12, 2008 11:01 AM

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Dina Kushnir

Posts: 183
Registered: 12/3/04
New Algebra 2/trig curriculum for 2009-2010
Posted: Aug 25, 2008 10:01 PM
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Dear fellow math colleagues,

My district began this summer to plan for the upcoming Algebra 2/Trig curriculum, scheduled to be phased in during the 2009-2010 school year. As we were working, we had some questions about some of the standards. I contacted John Svendsen at SED and his answers to my questions are given below. I am sending them out in case they might help some other districts with their planning.


A few weeks ago we spoke on the phone regarding some of the Algebra 2/Trig standards. Below is a summary of the questions I asked you and your responses as I understood them. I am hoping you can review this information before I post it on the AMTNYS listserv for the benefit of all the participating teachers.

Q1) It looks like conic sections are no longer part of the curriculum with the exception of circles and parabolas. (No ellipses or hyperbolas in standard form) Is this indeed true?

NYSED response: Correct. No ellipses or hyperbolas will be on the Alg2/Trig exam.

Q2) Do students have to be able to write the equation of a parabola given its graph? Do students need to know "vertex form" of a quadratic function? (We are not sure how deep to go with A2.A52. Are students expected to simply identify as graph as linear, quadratic,exponential, etc. OR do they need to come up with an equation?)

NYSED response: Students do not have to write the equation of a parabola given its graph. To meet standard A2.A52, students merely need to look at a graph and indicate whether it is a relation or a function. Students may also be given a graph and have to determine whether it is linear, quadratic, exponential, or logarithmic, but they will not have to write a specific equation for the graph.

Q3) A2.A.69 refers to "phase shifts" for trig function graphs. As these shifts vertical only, or horizontal as well? Will students be expected to transform tan, csc, sec, and cot graphs, or just sin and cos?

NYSED response: He will get back to me on this one.

Q4) We don't see any specific language about proving trig identities. Are these no longer inthe curriculum? A2.A.76 and A2.A.77 use the word "apply" in relation to identities. Are these applications numerical only?

NYSED response: Students will no longer have to prove trig identities. They will have to substitute trig identities to solve trig equations and do numerical applications.

ex: Solve cos(2x) - sinx = -1
ex: Given angles A and B are acute, sin A = 3/5 and cosB = 12/13, find cos(A + B)

Q5) To what degree do students need to understand the constant "e"? The standards indicate using natural logs and graphing y = e^x.

NYSED response: Students will not be tested on where e came from. They simply need to know its approximate value, that it is irrational, and work with it using natural logs.

As a side note to the forum: We are in the process of writing unit plans to cover all the standards. As of right now, it seems there is WAY TOO MUCH material to cover in one year. Only a few topics were eliminated from the Math B curriculum (conic sections and proving trig identities), but they were replaced by series/sequences and all the probability that used to be in the old Sequential Course 2. After all of our unit plans are done, I will be interested to see the total number of class days required to get through all of this. I mentioned my concerns to John Svendsen, who is a reasonable and sympathetic guy. He basically said we have to live with things as they are until the curriculum comes up for review in 2112!!! I guess the idea of "continuous improvement" was not part of the planning model when this curriculum was written. When I asked if some topics could be eliminated before the curriculum goes into effect, I was told that the commissioner would never allow it until the 2112 review. The standards were written by a committee of professionals who believed they could all be taught in one year.

I am certainly NOT doubting the knowledge or professionalism of anyone that served on the standards-writing committee. That was a daunting task, and the curriculum document we have now is certainly an improvement over the old one in terms of specificity. However, I am curious to know to what degree discussions about timing/pacing took place. Did anyone actually condsider the number of days it would take to teach each of these standards? Was time for assessment and review taken into consideration? There are about 106 standards to cover! Some of them can be taught rather quickly (e.g. - evaluate trig functions on the calculator) but some of them require 3 or more days to teach well (e.g. - transforming functions, solving trig equations, etc.).

Has anyone else begun combing through these standards? If so, do you share my concerns?

Perhaps when my colleagues and I are done writing out our unit plans, someone with more expertise than me can look at them and tell me where we can shave off a few days. I did tell Mr. Svendsen that I would send the unit plans to the Commissioner for his review as well. I am not doing that to be sarcastic or petty. I just really think he needs to hear from the field about how challenging it is to "cover" so much material.

Dina Kushnir
Mathematics Dept.
Fayetteville-Manlius HS

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