Friday, August 21, 2009

Algebra STARs

What are they doing right?

Every one of the 118 seventh- and eighth-graders in Mark Freathy and Mary Chung's classes at Elizabeth Pinkerton Middle School in Elk Grove was rated advanced or proficient in Algebra I, according to California Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) scores released Tuesday.

"I've never seen this in my career," said Principal Patrick McDougall. "I've had one in the high 90s, but it's the first time a school I've been associated with has had 100 percent."

And, of the 118 students in the school's Algebra I classes, 93 were rated advanced, including every single one of the 20 seventh-graders who were taking the course.

The comments bring up some interesting questions. Is the school extra selective about who is enrolled in the class? Are the teachers superstars? Is there something outside of school or outside of the math class that is contributing to this success? What curriculum and pedagogy are the teachers using?

Let's get some answers and see if this success can be replicated.

And for those of you who are not in California, our math standards, especially in Algebra 1 and Algebra 2, are rigorous--and I say that as a math teacher.


KauaiMark said...

"...some interesting questions"

or testing hanky-panky?

Mr. W said...

yeah I teach Algebra I and that's damn impressive...almost too impressive. I would think some red flags have gone up. The whole 100% proficient or advanced usually ends around 3rd/4th grade.

The highest I have gotten is in the high 60's. Now granted I don't have 8th graders (high schoolers), but that does raise some the ones you brought up.

Now a funny side story. At my wife's work, some new teacher came in and within two years had the highest scores in the school and district (a lower income district). The principal was like "why don't all of you go see what she is doing right and be more like her". Now I am sure how that would rub the veteran teachers. Anyway, it turns out that she was cheating. There were high amounts of erasure marks on the tests and it turns out she was just going over the answers with them.

So she was fired and lost her credential...worth it? nope.