Date: September 4, 2013
For Information: September 12, 2013
For Action: September 26, 2013
Board Agenda: Yes X
FROM: Gerald Mann, Jr., Director of Middle School Instruction
DeBerry Goodwin, Principal Francis Hammond 1
Jason Sutton, Principal Francis Hammond 2
Andrea Sparks-Brown, Principal Francis Hammond 3
Greg Tardieu, Principal George Washington 1
Pierrette Hall, Principal George Washington 2
THROUGH: GwenCarol Holmes, Ed.D., Chief Academic Officer
Margaret May Walsh, Ed.D., Acting Superintendent of Schools
TO: The Honorable Karen Graf, Chairman, and Members of the Alexandria City School Board
TOPIC: Ramping up Mathematics in Middle School with Mr. Steve Leinwand
Division Goals Addressed:
Ensure all students demonstrate significant academic growth and dramatically improve achievement outcomes for students below grade level.
Provide a rigorous, relevant, and internationally benchmarked education to enable all students to succeed as citizens in the global community.
Create an exceptional learning environment.
Policy: IGA-1 – Basic Instructional Program
JFC-R-1 – Standards of Student Conduct
GBB – Staff Involvement in Decision Making
Budget Impact: $90,000 (Transfer of funds)
BACKGROUND: Middle school math achievement has been a concern for several years in ACPS and this year four of the five middle schools are accredited with warning in math. The middle school math departments are largely new to ACPS with the exception of GW1. Based on data analysis from the 2012-2013 SOLs, the middle schools need to improve in the following areas:
Increase conceptual understanding by students and staff
Provide multiple representations of concepts and teach multiple ways to solve the equation/problem
Improve the 7th grade math pass rate (combined average pass rate of 33% for the five schools)
Improve the 8th grade math pass rate (combined average pass rate of 11% for the five schools, this does not include Algebra I)
During the 2012-2013 school year, the middle schools’ efforts to improve math achievement included in-house math workshops focused on building conceptual understanding, strategies for making connections, asking open-ended questions and implementing performance tasks. Follow-up on these topics varied from school to school and the majority of the math teachers who participated in the workshops are no longer employed by ACPS.
On October 14th, the middle school leadership in collaboration with Gerald Mann and Steve Leinwand will conduct an intensive math workshop with all middle school math teachers and instructional coaches. The focus of this workshop will center on the high leverage mathematics instructional practices that “correlate with high levels of student achievement and that should be incorporated into all mathematics instruction at all levels.” The following are the nine high leverage mathematics instructional practices covered in the workshop:
Effective teachers of mathematics respond to most student answers with “why?”, “how do you know that?”, or “can you explain your thinking?”
Effective teachers of mathematics conduct daily cumulative review of critical and prerequisite skills and concepts at the beginning of every lesson.
Effective teachers of mathematics elicit, value, and celebrate alternative approaches to solving mathematics problems so that students are taught that mathematics is a sense-making process for understanding why and not memorizing the right procedure to get the one right answer.
Effective teachers of mathematics provide multiple representations.
Effective teachers of mathematics create language-rich classrooms that emphasize terminology, vocabulary, explanations and solutions.
Effective teachers of mathematics take every opportunity to develop number sense by asking for, and justifying, estimates, mental calculations and equivalent forms of numbers.
Effective teachers of mathematics embed the mathematical content they are teaching in contexts to connect mathematics to the real world.
Effective teachers of mathematics devote the last five minutes of every lesson to some form of formative assessment.
Effective teachers of mathematics demonstrate through the coherence of their instruction that their lessons – the tasks, the activities, the questions and the assessments – were carefully planned.
Follow through on these instructional practices will occur through each school’s Content Learning Team (CLT) or Professional Learning Community (PLC), weekly walk-throughs of math classrooms conducted by the school principals and the Director of Middle School Instruction, and the examination of school common assessment data. In addition, Mr. Leinwand will conduct walk-throughs with school leadership on a regular basis.
Research indicates that there is strong evidence that effective teaching strategies are the leverage point for making significant change in mathematics achievement for students (Slavin, Lake, & Groff, 2010). In meta-analysis of research studies on programs for mathematics instruction that examined mathematics curricula, computer-assisted instruction, and instruction process, the programs designed to change daily teaching practices have the largest and most significant impact on student achievement. The U.S. Department of Education’s Practice Guide: Improving Mathematical Problem Solving in Grades 4 through 8 (2012), reveals that the evidence shows that the strongest link to improved student achievement in mathematics is through the use of specific instructional practices. These practices include helping students monitor and reflect on the problem solving process, use visual representations, use multiple problem-solving strategies, and recognize and discuss mathematical concepts and notation.
Mr. Steve Leinwand promotes many of the learning objectives championed by ACPS, for example, higher level questions, transfer tasks, connected mathematics; and he supports the ACPS curriculum. Mr. Leinwand’s high leverage mathematical instructional practices are perfectly aligned with the instructional practices proven effective in rigorous studies. His support will help school leaders and mathematics teachers ensure that instruction in ACPS middle schools includes these proven instructional practices. In addition, Mr. Leinwand’s support would provide consistent professional learning in math across all ACPS middle schools as he is currently working with Jefferson Houston.
SCOPE OF WORK: The scope of work for Mr. Leinwand’s support to the middle schools will include the intensive math workshop for middle school leadership, math teachers and instructional coaches on the nine high leverage mathematics instructional practices. Mr. Leinwand will lead 50 classroom observations (10 per school) with the principals, and provide coaching for teachers, instructional coaches and principals on implementing high leverage instructional practices in the classroom and providing feedback. In addition, Mr. Leinwand will examine CLTs/PLCs effectiveness and offer feedback on improving collaborative practices at each school. This work will also include working with middle school leadership to improve interventions for students who are seriously behind and helping teacher to effectively use assessment data to inform instructional decisions.
The funding for this professional learning opportunity will be provided by the Curriculum and Instructional budget with transfer of funds from the following categories:
Staff Development Services
Supplement teacher (elementary)
Supplement teacher (secondary)
Instructional supplies (textbook left over)
Compared to services provided by other consultants, Mr. Leinwand’s per diem is lower and the proposed work is within the scope of his current contract with Jefferson Houston; thus enabling the additional work as a rider on a contract which has already been through the RFP process. Mr. Leinwand’s previous consultation day with ACPS secondary schools and his familiarity with ACPS will enable him to begin his work immediately.
The contract change order (that adds this additional work by Mr. Leinwand with the middle schools) is attached.
IMPACT: Ramping Up Mathematics will provide middle school administrators, instructional coaches and teachers with consistent professional learning for math.
RECOMMENDATION: Approval of budget transfer of $90,000 to provide the professional learning to middle school mathematics teachers.
CONTACT: Gerald R. Mann, Jr. and Middle School Principals
National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, 2012. Improving mathematical problem solving in grades 4 through 8. Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education: Washington D.C. Retrieved 9/5/13 at http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/PracticeGuide.aspx?sid=16
Slavin, R.E.; Lake, C.; Groff, C.; 2010. Educator’s Guide What Works in Teaching Math? The Best Evidence Encyclopedia, Johns Hopkins University. Retrieved 9/5/13 at http://www.bestevidence.org/word/math_Jan_05_2010_guide.pdf