The first meeting of the High School Algebra 1 Adoption Committee took place on March 1, 2016. Download the meeting PowerPoint


  • Get to know each other and check in
  • Review process and timeline
  • Story, Interests, Options
  • Check-out and next steps

Committee Members

Liz Ritz and Sharon Kautz Facilitators
Scott Powers Administrator
Thad Williams ELL
Rose Hadorn Special Education
Andy McMaster Bellevue High School
Amanda MacLeod Big Picture
Jami Hoeger Interlake High School
Heather Lorge Newport High School
Mary Takle Sammamish

Description of Process

  • Selection process to develop criteria for materials review
    • The goal is to narrow the field
  • Pilot follows selection of at least two materials to collect data while using the materials with students
  • Adoption recommendation to the Instructional Materials Committee (IMC)
  • Implementation following School Board approval to begin district-wide use

DRAFT Timeline

Committee Meetings

  • March 1, 2016: Start IBS process
  • March 16, 2016, 1:15-3:15: Continue with options and possibly review materials
  • April 27, 2016, 1:15-3:15
  • May 18, 2016, 1:15-3:15
  • June 7, 2016, all day if necessary


  • Middle of March: Materials Sent to Schools for Review
  • April 27: Adoption Committee Selects 2 Sets of Materials to Pilot
  • End of April –May 18:Pilot in Classrooms
  • May 18: committee reviews pilot data
  • June: Adoption Recommendation to IMC
  • 2016-17: Implement


Consensus for Establishing the Decision-Making Process

  • Thumbs Up: I think it’s a good decision and will advocate for it.
  • Thumbs Sideways: I am comfortable with the proposal but might want to discuss some minor issues.
  • Thumbs Down: I still need to discuss certain issues and suggest changes that should be made.

Challenge & Goal

We use the same materials and approach to teach our high school students Algebra 1 that we use for our MS students without great success. The goal of this committee is to find materials and an approach to best serve the unique needs of the students in this course.


  • Explain problem and issues in detail; clarify, analyze. Answers What?
  • Communicate one piece of the story at a time
  • Communicate-describe, don’t accuse
  • Focus on issues, not people
  • Students are in different places and require grouping to support range of needs
  • Repeating strong
  • Repeating weak
  • ELL – multiple languages
  • First time students from different district
  • Students who need geometry are being added to algebra – algebra and geometry in the same year
  • No ELL students, half of class is special education who are new(er) to general education.  Class includes home schooled and international students who are new to BSD.  Needs are very different.  Severe motivation issues exist with previous failers.
  • ELL students who are new to the district typically are started in Algebra 1.  The backgrounds and needs can vary greatly.
  • Curriculum is not accessible to special education students due to reading level, lack of ease of in differentiation and accommodations
  • We struggle to know the effective instructional strategies working with this low level of math students
  • Even with low class, four students have been added and do not understand English.  Assessment showed less than 15% pre-algebra skills
  • Homework completion is difficult.  This requires structuring of a different nature than other math classes.
  • Diverse mix of kids, predominately Hispanic.  The needs are not being met.
  • A lot of instructional time is spent on behavior management.
  • Some students in algebra 1 do not know how to multiply and divide.
  • Para educator is in the room part time in some Algebra 1 classes.
  • An increase in newcomer ELLs, specifically in Chinese and Spanish, throughout the year impacts Algebra 1.
  • Each day requires assessment and pre-teaching to help with access of content.
  • Each high school has chosen a different method or structure to try to meet the need of this group of students.
  • It doesn’t seem like just a math thing.  Students may come with other challenges and typically are not doing well in other classes.
  • Hours of planning time is spent trying to make the materials more engaging, accessible with rich entry tasks and embedded motivation.
  • At NHS, the set-up is an Algebra 1 co teach model with support and a straight Algebra 1.
  • At SHS, all 82 Algebra 1 kids are in the same class with 5 teachers (3 math and 2 special education).  It is two periods.  Requires a lot of planning and prep.
  • At Big Picture, there is one class with one teacher and a part time para.  Teacher feels isolated and not plugged in to other options out there.
  • Curriculum lacks language opportunities to practice through the math content.
  • Pacing is a concern.  A lot of students need extra time to practice in class.
  • Both math retention and learning what it takes to be a successful math student is necessary to ongoing success.  Historically, students leaving Algebra 1 are not successful in Algebra 2 given the gap between Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 (geometry).
  • Notetaking and study skills are lacking with students in this course.
  • While many languages are represented in Algebra 1, Spanish is highly represented and there seems to be a lack of Spanish materials.
  • At BHS, 70% of students take a single Algebra 1 (special education students within also take a separate math course).  The other 30% are in a double block period.  Assessment at the beginning of the year is used to determine placement.
  • At Interlake, 3 sections are single Algebra 1 that have a mix of ELL and special education students.  It is treated more like a support class with pre-teaching and re-teaching.  There is also a double block class for students who have low state test scores and have failed twice (not for special education).  Some of the students in double block take geometry the next year and some take Algebra 1 again.
  • Attendance issues exist.  35-40 absences in a semester.  Not good mindset regarding math.
  • Advanced or Long Term ELL students are not successful in Algebra 1 and tend to get stuck.  Engagement issues, low math self-esteem are issues.
  • Instructionally, we sometimes make it so easy to do something that we are missing the conceptual pieces.  This makes transfer of skills very difficult.  Process is taught, rather than conceptual understanding.
  • Students tend to want to only interact with the instructor not help each other.
  • Learned helplessness exists within the students of this course.
  • Although there is diversity in the group, there are not natural leaders and students don’t tend to motivate each other.  Typically, there are not role models.  Homogeneous in terms of type of student.
  • Experienced teachers are teaching Algebra 1.  High quality instructors trying to tackle this issue.


  • Motivation to solve problem- answers why?
  • Focus on interests, not positions
  • Understand interests- don’t judge them
  • “I have an interest in…”
    • Students having access to career and college opportunities.
    • Variety of resources for teachers to use to meet student need.
    • Flexible to meet the needs of all students and still have a personal life.
    • Helping students to feel that they are capable of doing math.
    • My students knowing how to work with each other and use available resources.
    • My students having success in future math classes after Alg 1.
    • The chance to be more creative and increase engagement in the class.
    • How we get students to use and practice more language in the Alg 1 classroom.
    • Making all classroom accessible and equitable to all learners.
    • Students being able to access materials in their native language.
    • The struggling students wanting to come to math class.
    • More collaboration within the classroom to better meet student needs
    • Not patch-working activities and coming up with resources from scratch to save time in planning
    • How a student in 9th grade who is repeating Alg. 1 experiences Alg 1 differently (in a more positive way).
    • Making the content relevant for all of the different students in it.
    • Making certain the course and materials are useful to students.
    • Finding places that are doing this well and learning from them (Denver Public Schools? New York?)
    • Students feeling supported in social emotional learning and having positive lives.
    • Seeing the poor behavior decrease and the good behaviors increase.
    • This class becoming less demonized within my math teaching community and that there is a willingness to take on this opportunity.
    • How teachers collaborate with each other across the math department, ELL, special education, etc.
    • Sustainability of the course to consistently deliver high quality instruction.
    • That at the administrative level, that there be an awareness and understanding of how we can collectively support our algebra 1 students (teacher assignment, resource sharing, collaboration)
    • Figuring out to better onboard students who have missed key prerequisite content
    • In students sharing that they love math and that they are excited to come to class.
    • Meeting the BSD district mission for college and career ready by students accessing algebra 2 and above.


  • Brainstorm possible solutions- answers how (instructional materials and approach)?
    • Defer evaluation and commitment
    • Based on the interests

Develop the flexible group as needs change; not a static group of students. Multiple classrooms, multiple teachers, same period.

  • Ability to move on with math when students extended time over the multiple years.
  • Something for beginning ELL students – pre-teach the language and targets the skill deficit.
  • Ability to have an Algebra/Geometry double block class so they can accelerate.
  • Flexibility in crediting, transcripting, and scheduling.


  • Para educators who know math and can really assist
  • Availability of adult mentors (home language preferred) and Academic Coaches.
  • Any adult or student support must be able to support the math

PE before math

  • No Algebra at the end of the day

Materials that allow for small success – but lead to deeper conceptual understanding

  • Materials that connect with individual interest
  • Materials with more than one day of practice, built in spiraling.
  • Materials that include good questions which don’t give the answer but could be shared with others in the class working with
  • Technology support that will add with strong visual support; need to options depending on the need of students (multiple platforms to meet needs of students)
  • Curriculum that supports flexible timing of mastery.
  • Curriculum needs to support the transition to a whole class setting and the next curriculum.

Quarterly or more frequent meeting for a half day for Algebra 1 teachers.

  • Coaching for group work
  • Develop knowledge of how other cultures represent symbolically
  • Outside expert who can do coaching in math instruction and language acquisition

Need SES support and part time Social Worker

Co-teaching (someone math literate) –  teachers, para-educators, etc.

Peer tutoring – in groups in classroom

Teaching leadership

Cross school collaboration (across district)

Instructional coaching

Set time for cross-school collaboration (more hours of PD)

Algebra 1 class taught in Spanish

Algebra 1 and geometry in same class (some get only through algebra, some move on to geometry credit – in same room)

Progress-based grades (not just assessing final product)

Better job of integrating the English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS) with Algebra 1 curriculum and math practices – this provides a way to differentiate and monitor growth for ELL students at all proficiency levels.

More creative lessons

How do we teach them what they need  to learn and also explore?

Use of projects?

SEL strategies – use tomorrow, practical, specific (targeted to this population)

Teach gen ed teacher some SPED strategies

Smaller class sizes – (less than 20)

Field trips – real life experiences

Flexibility in unit planning

Grouping configurations within a classroom

More projects (menu of projects directly related to chapters, objectives and demonstrating math practices)

  • Unit long projects
  • 1-2 day long projects
  • Learning through investigations (not just end-of-unit)

Algebra 1 and Geometry pairing, because if not when does geometry happen. It is important to have students move to Algebra 2 when algebra 1 learnings are fresh.


  • Access to a variety of shared resources
  • Use of computer programs?
    • Aligns with Holt
    • Online program with access to different languages
    • Computer program that can read text aloud (and also translate)
  •  Algebra 1/Geometry block class
  • Pre-Algebra ?

Next Steps

  • March 16, 2016: 1:15-3:15 at Bellevue High School. Bring instructional materials to review.  Integrated Alg/Geo and Alg and Geo.
  • Decide criteria for materials
  • Straw design
  • Report back about Denver and anything else (New York)
  • Post PowerPoint to website
  • Put OneNote notes in the PowerPoint notes
The Bellevue School District acknowledges that we learn, work, live and gather on the Indigenous Land of the Coast Salish peoples, specifically the Duwamish and Snoqualmie Tribes. We thank these caretakers of this land, who have lived and continue to live here, since time immemorial.