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Chinook’s Math Momentum goal exceeded

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg

The Chinook School Division’s plan to improve the mathematical skills of students has exceeded the goal set four years ago.

Curriculum Co-ordinator Ed Varjassy provided a report on the outcomes of the Math Momentum plan at a regular board meeting, Aug. 24.
“Our results have been very positive with Math Momentum,” he said after the meeting. “We have seen a 29 per cent growth in our students meeting or exceeding expectations and our goal was 25 per cent over the four years of Math Momentum.”
The June 2015 assessment of Grade 3, 6 and 9 students in Chinook School Division indicated that overall math scores have improved from only 47 per cent of students meeting or exceeding expectations in 2011 to 76 per cent in 2015.
This 29 per cent increase means that 349 more students were meeting or exceeding expectations in Grade 3, 6 and 9 Math in 2015 than four years ago.
There were 218 fewer students in 2015 that needed support with math. This represents a reduction of 17.6 per cent over four years.
According to Varjassy, the focus on teacher professional development was an important reason for the success of the plan.
“There was a lot of professional development with teachers in helping them understand the research that has gone into the way students learn mathematics and in providing them with some tools,” he said.
This support for math teachers included diagnostic assessment tools such as First Steps in Math.
“Generally, the theory behind that is you assess where the students are at, what their ideas are, if they have misconceptions and if they have misconceptions, then target some activities to correct those misconceptions before they go on to be bigger problems,” he explained.
Math coaches provided coaching and support directly to teachers in their classrooms during the four years.
“We also did a big push in the last couple of years in terms of having our classrooms become guided math classrooms, which is very similar to the Balanced Literacy guided reading type scenario,” he said. “It just allows teachers the ability to work with smaller groups and focus on the individual needs more closely than working just as everyone gets the same level of instruction.”
The next step will be implementation of a Math Momentum maintenance plan with two math maintenance coaches to provide ongoing support for teachers.
“Part of that plan involves working with new teachers as they come into Chinook so that those practices are maintained,” he said.
This professional development support will be provided to all new teachers from Kindergarten to Grade 8, including coach support to help them to create effective guided math classrooms.
The maintenance plan includes the implementation of the math intervention program in all schools to provide assistance to students who need extra support.
Varjassy is expecting the level of improvement in math scores during the maintenance phase to be lower than during the initial four years.
“Schools will still have a math goal that they will be focusing on at the school level,” he said.
“It just won’t be that big division push. With that I would hope that we should see at least maintaining what we have and with the intervention program in place that should increase our numbers as well.”

via SW Sask News – Prairie Post – Prairie Post

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