I meant to post this awhile ago, but didn’t review it. Then this article came out today so its still timely 🙂
Last Sunday the Arkansas end-of-course results came back for Algebra 1 (mostly my kiddos and all I taught) and Geometry. And they were amazing 😀 Both courses had gains on the percent of students that were proficient or advanced (without that score students do additional course work to graduate). Algebra is what I do all day and we had a gain of 10% going from 49% to 59% even with losing an Algebra teacher for the second spring in a row. A personal huge positive, my students were 66% proficient or advanced so I just dream of having two teachers all year. I’m so so so so so proud.
The data doesn’t tell it all so here are two brief anecdotes about the results.
Number 1: Unexpected Growth
” I told the eighth graders that if they wanna learn they better be in Mr. Winfield’s class” – X
X was one of my students this year. She came late and came with a ton of energy. Somehow everything we did in class made math click in a way it never had before. One day this spring we were plotting points and she kept confusing her x and y coordinates and she told me “I always had another student do it because I didn’t get it” I said “If you don’t do it then you won’t learn it”
Months later we were graphing again and she graphs all by herself. We were both so happy! She finally got it!
Test results came back and she was one of my highest scoring students. Even with her vocal complaints X showed more mastery than almost every 9th grader I taught. I worked with her mom this summer and spread the good news. She was excited and told me the next day “I don’t know who was more excited, X or her dad. And X keeps saying its because you kept breaking down things and explaining and this year was the first year truly understood”
There’s nothing you can say to that, other than I’m proud, overwhelmingly proud of X. And all the students who made great gains from their hard work.
Number 2: A Fatal Error
I had until last Sunday always claimed that success in my class (not failing) would indicate your ability to succeed on the end of course exam. If you had a high grade, I was certain of your skills. Y. had an A in my class 3rd 9 weeks but started to slip up. Y. scored in the lowest score category. Z. was more of a problem but during review she stepped up her game and scored proficient (2 score categories higher).
Grades and tests shouldn’t be this far apart – yes there were behavior issues (suspensions) for Z and none for Y. Yes, Y did his homework after I contacted home. But he didn’t retain that information. This is convincing me more that Standards-Based Grading may be something to seriously look at implementing.
Still, looking at the big picture I know there were huge gains and I’m still beaming with pride. I know PARCC is coming and is going to change results but I feel that this laid the ground work for a good way to teach – I just have to make sure my grading best represents student knowledge.
Oh, and thank you (yes YOU). If you are reading this you are probably a part of the #MTBoS and if you are your work blogs and philosophy made these incredible results possible. And thats why this year I’ll be a vocal part of the community – to make math class better for all students like X, Y and especially Z.
***doing my happy dance until September when the whole school will know about the students phenomenal work**