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Helping math proficiency spike at a Title I school

Total Motivation by Mentoring Minds improves math scores at Bald Creek Elementary School

When North Carolina adopted the Common Core in 2012, Principal Sherry Robinson and her staff at Bald Creek Elementary School spent the year feeling at a loss. The rural Title I school was facing its usual host of challenges—a high achievement gap, a transient population and at-risk students—but now it lacked the resources to shape an instruction plan.

Over the summer, a veteran teacher recommended Mentoring Minds’ Total Motivation, a Common Core-aligned curriculum that includes instructional support for teachers. “We came to a consensus. We wanted to try it,” says Robinson.

Extensive catalog provides strong foundation

Teachers appreciate Total Motivation because it gives them a common language to plan for vertical alignment and to build a strong foundation for students even in the early grades. Across the board, Bald Creek’s teachers use Total Motivation for daily instruction, drawing on the extensive catalog of strategies included in the Teacher Edition to introduce new concepts and model new skills.

Recently revised, Total Motivation now addresses 100 percent of the North Carolina Standard Course of Study with targeted practice and critical thinking-based activities. The flexible resource fits any existing scope and sequence, yet is rigorous enough to drive instruction on its own.

Rising scores and state recognition

In 2013-14, the first year of implementation, Bald Creek’s math proficiency rose from 60 percent to 87 percent. The fourth-graders—who had a passing rate of 51 percent as third-graders—scored at 90 percent that year. “The curriculum is written at a higher thinking level. We’re always looking for ways to challenge our students,” says Robinson.

In 2014-15, Bald Creek’s Level 5 math scores were more than double the district average at 38 percent. Reading scores are now rising as well, and the school earned an A+NG grade last year—a distinction awarded to only 17 K5 schools in North Carolina, and only four of which are Title I.

Success leads to 1-to-1 funding

That same year—based on its sustained high performance on student achievement over a number of years—Bald Creek was awarded a $100,000 North Carolina Title I Reward School Grant. Bald Creek used the grant to fund a 1-to-1 technology initiative. “I was almost in tears the first day I walked into the classroom and saw every kid with their own device,” says Robinson. “If we trace that back, we attribute a large portion of our success to Total Motivation.”