Business leaders help Nebraska revise student math standards

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A group of Nebraska teachers is helping revise state math standards after meeting with business leaders to discuss how they use math in their jobs and what skills their employees need.

The Lincoln Journal Star reports about 40 teachers used the information they gathered to revise the data-gathering portions of curriculum standards, and strengthen the link between what students learn and the jobs they may have as adults.

This is the first time the Nebraska Department of Education has included business leaders from the trucking, manufacturing, health, aviation and agriculture industries in the discussion of standards for what students must know from kindergarten through 12th grade.

The Nebraska Department of Education compared its existing standards to that of other states, the ACT college preparatory exam and the voluntary national Common Core standards.

The study revealed that many of the state’s standards were just as rigorous the Common Core’s, but that concepts were introduced at different times. According to Deb Romanek, the department’s director of mathematics, the revisions clarify what math skills students need to have mastered and eliminate duplication between grades.

“We want to send (businesses) students that are ready to walk in (their) workforce and be successful,” she said. “So what is that transition and what do we need to do to prepare them?”

One of the biggest changes to the standards is that students are now expected to master advanced algebra by the 11th grade, which is when students take the state math test. A proposal also adds a voluntary section of concepts for students who continue past advanced algebra.

Romanek says teachers in the state welcomed the more specific rules in the curriculum.

A draft of the standards will be available online to the public through May 29. A public hearing will be held, and the state board is likely to vote on the proposed standards in September.

The department will ask for higher education officials to sign off on the new standards as being “college and career ready,” which will help the state’s attempt to get a waiver from No Child Left Behind requirements.

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