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11/13/2018

Assessment tools provide valuable feedback, but many traditional techniques assess mathematical thinking skills in retrospect, rather than real-time. Educators, meanwhile, must gauge students’ computational thinking and learning potential, not just rote memorization and mechanical know-how. With the right learning data on student needs and accomplishments, school leaders can transform classroom practice.

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.

As a longtime elementary school teacher, Jolene Rude has seen her share of students struggle with—and sometimes abandon—difficult math problems. After using Everyday Mathematics 4, however, even struggling students are learning challenging math concepts, along with life skills, says Rude, an elementary CORE math teacher at Johnston Community School District, located in a northern suburb of Des Moines, Iowa.

The percentage of kindergartners in West Valley School District #208 ready for math compared to kindergartners in Washington state.

A student success program at West Valley School District #208 in Yakima, Washington, provides additional support for learners from pre-K through high school graduation.

At first, the class was like any other at Georgia’s Quitman County School District. Kids sat at desks while an adult lectured. Despite appearances, this was no ordinary lecture. Schneider Electric organized STEM activities for the kids in this Quitman County high school class. These activities are part of Quitman County’s energy performance contract with Schneider Electric and are designed to engage students in a STEM-inspired engineering shadowing program focused on energy conservation.

To overcome the geographic, fiscal and cultural obstacles to educating their students in STEM, rural superintendents are tapping new funding sources, forming partnerships and exploiting technology.

During Noel Petrosky’s 12 years at different Saint Marys Area School District elementary schools, she saw assessment data accurately predict student performance on state tests and inform instruction that led to student growth. That wasn’t the case at Saint Marys Area Middle School when she became principal two years ago.

“I thought, ‘I can’t go into a system not knowing what my students are capable of,’ ” recalls Petrosky, who wanted to establish a multi-tier system of supports (MTSS) framework at her middle school in rural northwestern Pennsylvania.

Doreen McSain, Glenwood Elementary School, has been named principal of the year by the School Administrators Association of New York.

Principal Doreen McSain of Glenwood Elementary School welcomes canines into her school to encourage her students to read to them.

NMSI’s mantra is that education empowers opportunity. How have you experienced that?

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