Rural elementary school sees steady rise in test scores after implementing Everyday Mathematics®

Variety of algorithms, repeat exposures help boost confidence and competence in K6 students
By: | Issue: March, 2018 | Case Study
January 24, 2018

The small rural district of United Local Schools in northeast Ohio has seen its math scores increase in the eight years it has used Everyday Mathematics® in its elementary school classrooms.

In 2015-16, the first school year in which all sixth-grade students had used Everyday Mathematics since kindergarten, those students scored 26.8 percentage points higher than the state average in state math tests. Yet the numbers don’t tell the whole story.

“Kids love math,” Elementary School principal Christina Hughes says. “Sometimes they even cheer when it’s time for math.”

United Local has one building for 1,200 students in K12. Still, there was no unified elementary math program when Hughes arrived 10 years ago. “There was no common language,” Hughes recalls. “That’s confusing for kids if you don’t all use the same words or methods.”

Hughes wanted that common language, along with better test scores and quality instruction across all grades. Familiar with Everyday Mathematics from a prior position, Hughes oversaw a pilot program two years later, with one teacher per grade using it. The following year the entire elementary school was using the program, which teaches a variety of ways to solve math problems while reinforcing concepts through hands-on, real-world applications and ongoing review.

Uncommon approach

The district currently uses Everyday Mathematics 4, which focuses on state standards and offers a digital grade book, teacher-created assessments and detailed reporting that identifies, for example, which students are struggling with which standards, then offers interventions.

“I love the layout, the spiraling, of the program, with the constant review the students get,” says Beth McGaffick, math coach for United Local’s Elementary School. “I love the online features that allow students to look at things at home with their parents, and parents can see what their kids are doing. The program has a neat presentation tool that integrates with iPads, and it also allows teachers to differentiate instruction for the next day. The differentiation, enrichment and scaffolding are all built in.”

Improving scores

According to the 2015-16 Ohio School Report Card for United Local, 83.5 percent of sixth-graders passed the state math test, compared with the state average of 56.7 percent.

That same year, 73.7 percent of fifth-graders passed, compared with the state average of 62.4 percent; 91.3 percent of fourth-graders passed, compared with the state average of 69.2 percent; and 87.5 percent of third-graders passed, compared with the state average of 65.8 percent.

“Our kids are not afraid to tackle a math problem,” McGaffick says. “They will try anything because they have a lot of strategies to use. And those are the daily payoffs—not only scores on state report cards but what we see every day that makes us proud.”

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