Exeter implements plan to raise MAP scores

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Math days work more math into schools' cirriculums

The Exeter School District is wasting no time finding ways to improve math scores for Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) and End of Course (EOC) exam scores for its middle and high school students.

Due to disappointingly-low scores in the state-mandated tests across many school districts, including their own, staff put their heads together and came up with a potential solution -- math days.

Every Friday, and the first and second Tuesday of each month, students spend one hour on a math-related subject, which includes a video, practice questions and quiz on an online-based program called Edgenuity. Math days work on rotation, so it does not matter if a student is in art class or English. If it's that teacher's math day, the students jump on a Chromebook and complete a math-related lesson. And, if they score less than 80 percent, they have to take it again.

"Even in art, you'll work on some math, and in English," said Sharyn Crouch, Exeter 7-12 counselor. "It's to do some cross-disciplinary work in an attempt to bring up our MAP and EOC scores. MAP is through eighth grade and EOC is the 9-12 grades version."

The district had success using the same concept a couple of years ago to improve English scores.

"It improved our English scores tremendously, where we had all courses work on English-related subjects," Crouch said. "You just use it for one hour. For instance, drama will do it one day a month, art the same. It's just like a little shot in the arm, or a little extra to help them realize you do use math in other things."

Crouch said the district started implementing math days about two weeks ago.

"The Edgenuity program has about 300 different courses to choose from like math, English and history," she said. "If they're in Algebra 1, we put them in Algebra 1 Edgenuity, rather than get their math book. They work on their own pace.

"Kids in geometry are put in geometry. And seniors who don't have a math course, they have ACT math which helps them get ready to take the ACT test."

Crouch said the concept originally came from High School Principal Robert Taylor, but overall was a collaborative effort.

"He threw it out there as a way to improve our MAP scores, and and teachers got on board, especially when they realized they didn't have to teach it but facilitate it," she said.

"Myself, math teacher Adam Robertson and Superintendent Ernest Raney were talking about how we could help kids with math, and that we'd like to improve our MAP scores," Taylor said. "If you have a basketball team and you want to get better, you practice. The more you do something, the better you get at it, so were talking about how could we help our kids.

"Then, I got to thinking how could I fit that into my schedule at school, and at our next meeting, I presented it to the teachers. My first thought was, I would like to take one day a month and everyone work on math throughout the school. The teachers put their input into how to organize and arrange it. We don't have that many computers, so we thought, why don't we make it where each teacher has one day a month that's their day."

Taylor said the district already has a plan in place for how to measure if the new practice is making 
a difference.

"We can measure it through the computer program," he said. "The kids do the lessons and take the test, and then the percentage of their grade will come from the Edgenuity program. We are going to do besmirch tests three times: after the first quarter, fate the semester and after the third-quarter, with MAP- or EOC-type questions, then we'll take the assessment at the end of the year of course."

Taylor indicated that any goal worth pursuing in education takes a team.

"I'd say it was a collaborate effort between all of our staff to come up with this idea because without their support and input it probably wouldn't work," he said. "I am confident that our MAP scores will improve this year, and I think our kids are working hard at it and our teachers are working hard at it. I'm very encouraged by the progress we've made so far.

"We have to work as a staff and as a school toward our goals. I think that's the key, that we're all working together for one common goal, and I think if you do that, you're going to have success."

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