The middle school mathematics program follows the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSS), which were adopted by ASL in the 2012-13 school year.
The CCSS include content standards that are developmentally appropriate for each grade level and build on one another from year to year across the strands of: number system, ratio and proportional relationships, expressions and equations, geometry, statistics and probability, and functions. The standards also include a set of eight Standards for Mathematical Practice, which outline processes and proficiencies that students develop as they become increasingly proficient mathematicians. These practices include: make sense of problems and persevere in solving them; reason abstractly and quantitatively; construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others; model with mathematics; use appropriate tools strategically; attend to precision; look for and make use of structure; and look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.
The sequence of units in each grade level, built using CCSS as the framework, are designed to create a story line of mathematics, which builds on itself throughout the course of one year as well as across the four years of middle school. The middle school content standards provide an opportunity for students to go deeper with the content that was introduced in the Lower School so that they have a solid conceptual foundation in mathematics before they reach the more abstract content found in high school mathematics and beyond. The CCSS provide the vertical curricular coherence, mathematical rigor and instructional focus necessary to build a strong foundation, develop student perseverance, and encourage love for the logic and creativity of mathematics. They push students to engage in mathematical practices that equips them with the skills they need to persevere in solving problems, and pursue mathematics for as long as they are passionate about the field.
In middle school math classes, students can be found solving rich problems, discussing mathematical ideas, debating solutions and methods of solving problems, and representing their thinking in a variety of ways. Middle school math classes prioritize conceptual understanding of mathematics over memorizing algorithms. Students develop fluency in their operations and in their thinking by learning first how to understand the mathematical concepts and then find ways to solve problems efficiently and fluently within those concepts. In line with best practices, much of the learning is based on asking students to engage in authentic problem solving that requires them to synthesize their knowledge and understanding of the math concepts with their ability to implement the math practices. We work to help students develop a growth mindset around mathematics and celebrate mistakes as opportunities for learning and growth. We encourage students to recognize that there is more than one “right way” to solve a problem.