Monday, June 10, 2013

2012-2013 Year in Review: Performance Data for the Third Grade Math "Compacting" Experiment

Our last post described the Third grade math experiment that took place during the 2012-2013 school year in which the plan was to compact 3rd and 4th grade math and have the students complete the 4th grade curriculum.  Did this actually happen and what did the performance data show?

During the May 28 Board of education meeting, Dr. Schuster reported that not all students finished the compacted 3rd and 4th grade materials.  The percentage of 3rd grade students completing 4th grade math varied from school to school.  The assessment test used by the District to measure student growth in Math is called the MAP test.  It was given in Fall, Winter and Spring.  After the Fall test, each student received an individual growth target that they should have achieve as measured with the Spring test.  At the May 28 Board meeting, the 3rd grade MAP math results were released.  They showed that in 5 of the seven elementary schools,  less than 50% of the 3rd graders met their Math growth targets. And for these 5 schools, this was a decline from the prior year, before the pilot/transition plan was implemented.

Percentage of students meeting Math Growth Targets from Fall to Spring:

                                        2012-2013     2011-2012
Prospect                              33.8%           57.5%
Lane                                   38.6%           44.3%    
Monroe                               40.0%           53.8%
Walker                                48.8%           55.0%
Madison                              49.4%           63.2%
Elm                                     60.0%           46.8%
Oak                                     80.0%           69.6%

This data establishes that the transition year was a failure.  NWEA, the publisher of the MAP tests, states that in high achieving districts, at least 70% of students should meet their growth targets.  The only school to achieve that was Oak.  Oak and Elm are the two schools with the smallest class sizes in the district.  Moreover, at Oak, the differentiation specialist co-taught 3rd grade math along with the 2 regular classroom teachers.

Questions the administration should address before next year starts include:

1. How will the Administration address the MAP growth data and what conclusions will it reach about what the growth data showed individually for each student?
2.  What analysis will the Administration undertake to determine why some schools had a significantly higher percentage of students meet their individual growth targets?
2.  Could the combination of smaller classes and an extra teacher at Oak School have led to more student growth than at the other schools?  If so, is more staff needed to teach math to students in "smaller groups?"
3.  Has the administration analyzed the 3 lowest performing schools in order to figure out what factors played a role in the low student growth?
4.  Is the administration willing to prepare a Report for the community that evaluates the 3rd Grade Math compacting experiment and candidly makes observations about what went right, what went wrong, and what needs to change for the 2013-2014 school year in order that 70% or more of the students will meet their growth targets?
5.  How will the administration make the current 3rd graders whole?  In other words, not all 3rd graders completed the same amount of math this year.  Where will they each start next year?  With the 4th grade curriculum or 5th grade curriculum?  How will the 4th grade teachers know what the needs and math level of each student is on the first day of school?

Question 5 above will be further explored in the next post which deals with the Math Plans for next year -- 2013-2014.

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