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What Are Middle Schools Doing to Raise Math Scores?

by Dr. Nesa Sasser, studioD

Middle schools are finding several creative ways to raise math scores. Some are extending math class time so that students can dig deeper into the curriculum. Some are utilizing special education teachers in general education classrooms to help special education students. Middle school leaders are also using research to tweak the math curriculum to better serve the students. As a last resort, some schools are offering student incentives for positive year-end results.

Extending Math Periods

Seacoast online reports that Cooperative Middle School in New Hampshire is tweaking the bell schedule. Math Instructional time is extended from 45 minutes to an hour. Students attend math classes every day at the same instead of using a rotation schedule. More instructional time in math class aids teachers by allowing them to cover more topics in depth. Communicating with students more frequently instead a few times a week creates continuity in the learning process and allows for more efficient classroom routines that can be maintained effectively.

Special Education Resources

At Cooperative Middle School, math classes with an unusually high number of special education students were assigned a certified special educator, a teacher trained in teaching students in special education while they are a general education classroom setting with students who do not have learning disabilities. With the increase in special education students in the general education classroom, schools are finding that collaborative partnerships are needed to support students with disabilities in general education settings to better serve them.

Improving the Math Curriculum

The "National Association of Secondary School Principals Bulletin" reports that the middle school curriculum is widely extended and very few topics are studied in depth. Middle school math teachers find themselves reteaching what was taught in previous years rather than the current curriculum, according to a study by NASSP. The study concludesd that middle school curriculum writers should identify key learning goals for each grade level and hone in on ways to help students avoid costly review and repetition.

Offering Incentives

Some middle schools are using external incentives for motivating students to achieve on tests and class assignments. According to a study by the U.S. Department of Education, school administrators are in partnership with local leaders in New York City. They are asking for solutions for middle school students by soliciting the best ideas for technology-based approaches to help middle school students excel in math through a project call the Gap App Challenge. Although it is a pilot program, they are hopeful that it will yield positive results.

About the Author

Dr. Nesa Sasser has served as teacher, school counselor, principal, and college professor. She earned a BBA in accounting from Texas A&M University; an MS in counseling; and an Ed.D. in educational leadership both from Texas A&M Univeristy-Commerce. Her dissertation related to Teacher Quality and Alternative Certification in Texas.

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