Our school district has decided to switch over to integrated math, and here's the reasoning: Common Core is going to require such a thorough rethinking about how we teach, that if we just changed standards, people would continue teaching the same way they always have; however, if we also change the courses we teach, then it will be easier to get people to change how they teach as well.
Whether or not you like the Common Core standards (and for math, I don't, since they're not as good as what California used to have), you have to admit that that's a pretty dumb reason to throw out our current progression of courses.
Today in our math department meeting we were talking about the Integrated Math books that we'll have only a few weeks to pilot this semester (and will thus make a decision that will impact us for the next decade or more). There's not a lot of integrated concepts in them; rather, there's some algebra here, some geometry there, but nothing that really ties them together. That's not "integrated", that's merely a "hodge-podge".
Then we talked about all the courses we'll need to offer. It's more than Integrated 1, Integrated 2, Integrated 3, Pre-calculus, Stats, and Calculus. See, according to the Common Core standards and guidelines, students are not supposed to be accelerated in middle school. Get that? The smart kids will be kept back with everyone else, because, fairness! Our illustrious district will allow middle school students to accelerate one grade in middle school, meaning 8th graders will be allowed to take Integrated 1. (Those would be the smart kids; under California's old standards, those would be the on-track kids.) So if we want kids to be able to take AP Calculus AB and/or BC in high school, we need to accelerate them in high school. This requires accelerated couses--so in addition to Integrated 2 and 3 we'll now have Integrated 2+ and Integrated 3+. And if a student isn't quite ready for Integrated 3 we'll offer Transition to Integrated 3. Of course that means we'll also have to offer Transition to Integrated 1 (which would in effect be an 8th grade math course, or the pre-algebra course we haven't been allowed to have in years) and a Transition to Integrated 2 course.
And our board is considering making 3 years of math a graduation requirement instead of the state-mandated two years. Because, higher standards, or something. If we don't offer a Transition to Integrated 1 course we might offer an Integrated 1A and Integrated 1B. How about Honors Integrated 2+? What if the College Board goes on with its plan to offer an AP Algebra course, how will that jibe with integrated courses?
Does any of this sound like an improvement at all? It reminds me of jobs in the Dept of Defense, like the Deputy Assistant Undersecretary of Defense for This, That, and the Other Thing.
It's all a hodge-podge. There's no organization, planning is ad-hoc at best, and we'll be expected to turn out "life-long learners" who are "college and career ready".