Falling Mathematics ScoresIn the state of Virginia, I have worked in 3 different school districts. Each one has had a dominant emphasis on teaching reading for several years. Now math scores are...
In the state of Virginia, I have worked in 3 different school districts. Each one has had a dominant emphasis on teaching reading for several years. Now math scores are dropping. For example, my 3rd grade class are very good readers. Out of 20 students, 18 passed the district benchmark test for the first quarter of the school year. However, only 8 students passed the mathematics test. My students can calculate fairly well, but they cannot problem solve. Our classroom schedule builds in a great deal of review, but students still struggle. Across the school district, mathematics is behind reading. I feel the problem is rooted in the school districts emphasis over reading instruction for years and they have allowed math to fall behind. And on the high school level is even worse. My daughter’s high school is in trouble with the state because of their record of math scores.
I have had success with math scores when I was teaching 7th and 8th grade math at a low income/high poverty title one schools. Most of these students needed a lot of remediating just to be able to perform grade level math problems. We added an extra block during the instructional day where we focused on remediating math and reading skills based on individual student test scores. During this block we focused on the objectives and problem solving skills that aligned with the end of grade tests. I taught a math class and I used differiented instruction to teach my students. I would start out with a whole group problem, then I would rotate the students to various stations with the room to work on various objectives. For example I had a computer station where the students used Study Island, I had a Smart Board where the students worked out various problems together and I had a station where the students worked on solving various word problems. I rotated the students about every 15 to 20 minutes. This worked out very well for myself and my students. They did not get bored and each student got a chance to work in an area that they needed improvement in. I also began a competition within the groups to help motivate the students. This was successful with the students school wide and we made growth and met our AYP goals for the year.
The elementary teachers in my district teach all subjects...is that your situation as well? Perhaps it would be in your best interest to put in for some staff development or common planning time (if your district allows for it) for each grade. You could analyze testing data to see your students' areas of weakness, and decide how you will target those specific areas in the coming school year. If the testing data is not available to you, a simple comprehensive assessment could be drawn up in an hour and given in an hour or less. It stinks to take time out of the day to deal with testing issues, but a little time investment now might save you a big one later.
It seems that math is a difficult class in which to address learning styles. My memory of math classes is that they build on each other. Most of these math classes seem very linear in structure which makes it difficult to address various learning styles. Add to that, the research that shows reading and writing enhance learning, but these are areas that math teachers might find difficult or lack the time to address in math class. It is going to take the ingenuity of these strong math teachers to add extra elements to the instruction while still addressing the needed curriculum.
I think there are two ways to judge whether your students are making progress in math, through your own curriculum aligned instruction and testing on those objectives, the other is through achievement on state mandated testing. Unfortunately the latter is the way schools are graded. However if your curriculum is aligned with state curriculum and objectives this should help.
Is your district implementing the new(er) NCTM Focal Points? The districts I work in (not Virginia) are implementing new standards that have come down from the state level in response to the Focal Points. Maybe they need someone like you to help pave the way in your district?
How much time do they have to solve math problems that are word-based? maybe they do not get much practice in that. Solving word problems are generally the hardest though their reading scores might be high. Try to offer more practice in word problems.
Maths, like any other subject, is special in its own way. Interest and curiosity are the main criteria to get attrated to any subject , and maths is also like that. A teacher cannot be solely responsible.The teen's interests and attractions are diverting very quickly. With effotrs, a teacher can do something to attract and make the subject curious. But there is no such all time remedy to make the maths or any peticular subject more interesting than any other subject. However, attempts could be done where the fault lies, and how to improve the situation and to stimulate the interest and curiocity factor towards maths in teen's mind.