Comprehensive mathematics programs makes a difference in Boston Public Schools
Five years ago, Boston Public School’s John Eliot School in the city’s North End neighborhood was declared an innovation school. What that meant for principal Traci Walker-Griffith was more autonomy in choosing the elementary school’s curriculum for her 570 students. One of the first curricular changes she made was bringing in Everyday Mathematics.
School population with learning challenges
“We have students who are English Language Learners, have speech and language-based learning disabilities, and significant difficulty with reading and working memory” says Walker-Griffith.
Fifty-five percent of students receive free and reduced lunch, 30% have learning disabilities and 18% are English Language Learners. Walker-Griffith wanted to find a math solution that would be able to meet the needs of all students. Everyday Mathematics was it.
The program was initially implemented for grades 1 and 2 in spring 2015. The program was so well received that in September 2015, the district expanded its use of Everyday Mathematics 4 to include kindergarten through grade 6.
Around the same time in 2015, Jason Gallagher, principal at Harvard-Kent Elementary School, also of Boston Public Schools, was also searching for a comprehensive program that would meet the needs of a diverse set of students. Like John Eliot School, Harvard-Kent’s population of 510 students in grades K through 5 includes large populations of English Language Learners (50%), students with learning disabilities (25%) and students receiving free or reduced lunch (89%).
“Our teachers were spending a significant amount of time and effort putting together a yearlong curriculum that met standards and student needs” recalls Gallagher.
A recommendation lead to implementation
After teacher review and a nearly unanimous decision to implement the program, Harvard-Kent piloted Everyday Mathematics 4 during the 2015-16 school year in all grades.
As with any curricular changes, there were challenges. For example, the students at John Eliot with significant learning disabilities needed additional resources beyond the Everyday Mathematics core. “When I reached out to McGraw-Hill, they provided immediate additional training in that intervention” says Walker-Griffith.
In addition to helping teachers at both schools overcome learning barriers, what the teachers like about the curriculum is that it saves on prep time. The principals like that since all grades are learning the same math curriculum, teachers now speak the same language when talking about math instruction.
Data shows curriculum works
Assessment testing has shown that students at both Eliot and Harvard-Kent are responding well to Everyday Mathematics 4. Says Gallagher, “Across the board our math scores are the highest they’ve ever been, with most students at proficient or advanced.”
Walker-Griffith’s students have achieved similar gains. “We saw a huge growth in the number of students who were proficient and advanced” she says. “In 2015, 45% of our kids were proficient and 11% were advanced. In 2016, we saw that jump to 65% proficient and 18% advanced. That’s a significant shift.”
This piece was produced by District Administration for McGraw-Hill Education. For more information, visit mheonline.com/em4da