Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fayette’s Students are Head of Class in Math I and II

When it comes to math, Fayette County’s students know how to crunch numbers. So much so, that they outperformed every school district in Georgia, except Forsyth, on the End of Course Test (EOCT) for Math I and Math II.

Approximately 800 students statewide failed the exam in Math I and Math II in May. Those students who passed did so by earning C’s and D’s, but Fayette’s students did better by earning the equivalent of B’s on both tests.

For Math I, 59 percent of Fayette’s students tested at the performance level, 27 percent exceeded it and only 14 percent did not meet performance standards. In Math II, 54 percent met performance standards, 25 percent exceeded and 21 percent failed.

Compared to state percentages, 52 percent met standards in Math I, 13 percent exceeded and 36 percent failed. Math II scores show 43 percent met standards, 9 percent exceeded and 48 percent failed.

The more challenging curriculum is faster paced and introduces the complex math concepts of algebra, geometry and statistics to students sooner than before. In the standards based math classrooms, teachers talk less, spending less time “telling” and more time facilitating student conversations about the current math concept. Students become doers of math with the teacher coaching and assisting them in developing their own understanding.

Math Coordinator Lynn Ridgeway says Fayette’s high EOCT scores is attributed to teacher training that took place one year before implementation of the standards, and total teacher buy-in.

“Instead of looking for ways around this curriculum, we viewed it as an opportunity for us to become better at the teaching and learning of mathematics,” says Greg Mason, the math department chair at McIntosh High.

Everyday, Fayette’s teachers teach, reflect and revise. Math I and Math II teachers meet weekly to discuss content to be taught, appropriate instructional strategies to be used and develop common assessments.

The school system also helps students with mastery of the new standards through electives for Math I and II. These courses allow students to be concurrently enrolled in their Math I or II courses and in the matching math elective. The elective provides a preview of upcoming math vocabulary and skills in their math course and a review of prior skills that a student is still struggling to master.

“Our middle and high school math faculties have put in countless hours of preparation and independent professional learning. They have worked extremely hard to implement this new curriculum. Many of our high school math teachers have remarked that students are coming from our middle schools with a rich math vocabulary and a deeper understanding of the middle school math standards. This prior knowledge has contributed to the successful learning of the Math I and Math II content that is reflected in the EOCT scores,” says Ridgeway.

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