By Denise Dick
There’s still a long way to go, but the math scores of city school students on state tests are improving.
Patti Brosnan, executive director of the Math Coaching Program at Ohio State University, which is working with the district, told school-board members at a recent board meeting that the district’s math scores have improved across several grade levels while the state average dropped.
“Grade three in Youngstown improved 13 percent this past year,” she said.
Fourth grade saw a 4 percent improvement, and fifth-grade math scores improved at most of the district’s elementary schools between 2011 and 2012 as well.
“We’re not there yet folks,” Brosnan cautioned. “The schools are not at the achievement level, but look at these gains.”
Teachers are named coaches and help other teachers to improve instruction.
The latest state report card — the first to use letter grades across several categories — graded the district with five F’s, two D’s and two C’s.
Kim Davis, the district’s executive director of teaching and learning, said that though the city schools improved more than the state average, the city school district was starting below the state average.
“We’re still not at the state average or where we need to be,” she said, “but 13 percent is a big jump, a big improvement. We’re getting there.”
The Math Coaching Program’s website says it’s working with 50 schools across the state, most of which are low-performing mathematically; and in urban and rural areas.
“It really is a different way of teaching mathematics,” Davis said. “It’s concept based.”
Rather than just learning an algorithm for long division, for example, students first learn what division is, what it’s used for and how it works, she said.
“It’s amazing to visit these schools, to listen to what the kids are saying and how they’re thinking,” Davis said.
Math coaches are at each building this school year, and the district plans to stick with the program. The Literacy Collaborative, another OSU program being used in city schools, also is showing progress and will continue this year as well.
Research shows that both programs, if implemented with fidelity, produce student improvement, she said.