IMP survey reveals pluses and minuses, future plans

In January of 2018, a survey was done regarding the Interactive Math Program at Amherst Regional High School along with answers to parents’ questions concerning the curriculum.

“The survey was not intended as a referendum on IMP. We continue to believe that IMP, as a curriculum, strikes the right balance between offering students the opportunity to learn important math content while,” said former Principal Mark Jackson, in a document shared with the school on the Parent Guardian Organization’s newsletter.

“At the same time, ensuring that students develop the problem solving habits and dispositions that the professional math community has identified as essential for the 21st century,” he added.

The original purpose of the IMP program was to provide the students with an in-depth understanding of mathematics, which many claim it does.

But others criticized specific elements of the course, such as the Problems of the Week, noting they are difficult problems that require quite a bit of thinking and work and don’t always align with units the classes are studying.

The head of the math department, Jane Mudie, responded to this concern.

“In all classes, the high school math teachers will thoroughly explain the purpose of POWs, emphasizing their importance and the role they play in developing problem-solving skills.”

And considering the difficulty of the problems, they will only count for about 15 percent of students’ overall grades.

There were also opinions about the math textbooks, with some students arguing that they lacked detailed explanations and tips and practices to guide students through the problem without getting stuck for a long time.

Parents also wanted teachers to give more straight-forward review for tests.

“Teachers will continue to give practice problems, end-of the unit reviews and notes to help students better prepare for upcoming tests and quizzes,” the math department answered. “Most of the materials and additional exercises will usually be found on Google Classroom sites.”

The most commonly stated problem among the student community is the feeling that “IMP has little to do with Calculus, the course that’s directly after IMP,” said Serik White, a junior who is taking Calculus this year.

“They are doing everything to improve the program, with all the extra review packets and portfolios to check in with students, to make sure they understand what they are doing,” said Lucas McCallum, a junior who is taking college math. “But there was no pre-calc or anything to help us. And they are sticking to the textbooks.”