Returning Middlebrook School 7th and 8th grade students found a surprise on their schedules this week. A new quarterly class has been added to boost the hours of math instruction Wilton middle schoolers will receive. When school starts next Tuesday, Aug. 27, they’ll begin taking a course in Statistics and Probability for one quarter of the year, in addition to their daily math instruction.

Middlebrook principal Lauren Feltz wrote an email to families explaining what the new class was and why it has been added to the curriculum this year.

“Those of you who follow the Wilton Board of Education closely know that there is a desire to increase math instructional time at Middlebrook School. Indeed, [superintendent] Dr. Kevin Smith is facilitating a study group of Middlebrook staff to explore ways to increase math-focused time. Adding this Statistics and Probability course is not a solution to that problem, but it will make sure that students get direct instruction on this content. The course will embed skill building in real-world application and project-based learning.”

Over the last few years, Wilton Public Schools administrators, faculty, families and Board of Education members have been engaged in discussion about students’ math performance across the district. Officials have explored the idea that the rollout of curriculum changes from Chicago Math to Singapore Math several years ago may have left some students with knowledge gaps as they progressed in math instruction.

The new Middlebrook class is being added as a part of the school’s STRIDE program, where some classes run on a quarterly schedule. The other courses taught this way include Family and Consumer Science (FCS), Introduction to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (ISTEM), and Health.

Feltz explained that while 6th grade students have traditionally taken a fourth quarterly class in Digital Citizenship, 7th and 8th graders had until now filled out their fourth quarter schedules with a tutorial. Now, Statistics and Probability will take the place of that tutorial.

The class will be taught by Darren Gunn, a long-time Middlebrook teacher who has previously taught English Language Arts, but is also dual certified in Mathematics. “Mr. Gunn is a highly skilled teacher who has a deep understanding of this content and is eager to help students explore meaningful, often fun, applications of data and statistics,” wrote Feltz in her email.