Q&A #2916

Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Accelerated Math program

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From: Dwight Blubaugh

To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 2005040601:09:32
Subject: Re:  Huge growth in scores with AM


I started piloting Accelerated Math in my classroom partway through
last school year, after a long, drawn-out fight to purchase it at no
cost to the district (using profits from our student-run school store,
which I supervise - the students voted to purchase the AM program and
the STAR Math testing program).  Getting the program started a quarter
of the way through the year, and only having one advanced (but not
terribly motivated) student using it most of the year (a few others
"dabbled" with it late in the year in addition to the regular
curriculum), I didn't see all that great of results.  Therefore, this
year turned into our real "pilot" year for it.

I have had three fourth graders using the program this year as their
main curriculum (and again, several others dabbling).  Two of the
three had me last year for fourth grade math (out of the text), as
third graders, so they started on the fifth grade library at the
beginning of this year - they both recently completed the fifth and
started the sixth grade library.  A third student started with the
rest of the class out of the text, but worked so hard on the fourth
grade AM library after school (I let students stay after 1-2 nights a
week to work on it), as extra homework, and when done with other
classwork, that I took her out of the text at semester time and put
her just into AM.  She recently finished the fourth grade library and
started on the fifth.


Each marking period, all of our fourth graders in three classrooms
have taken the STAR Math test (produced by the same company as AM),
which gives grade level equivalency.  At the end of our third marking
period, we gave the STAR again, and I compared scores.  Of those
students not working on AM, the highest score a student attained was
8-point-something (not in my classroom), with a couple at
7-point-something, and the vast majority at 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade
level - 4.7 would have been the expected average this time of the
year.  However, my three students who have worked on AM scored much
higher.  The LOWEST of the three STAR scores was 10.5, up from 5.7 in
the fall (6.3 the previous spring).  The student who started on grade
level last fall scored 11.4, up from 4.7 in the fall (4.1 the previous
spring).  And the last student scored 12.9+ (maxed out the test!), up
 from 4.2 last fall (6.0 the previous spring).

Even taking into account that two of these students were already one
grade level ahead of the rest of their classmates as far as coverage
of curriculum, the growth of the students working on AM has been
amazing!  And the fact that all three of them were consistent in these
huge gains seems just too coincidental to BE coincidental.  


I am thoroughly convinced that Accelerated Math can do things for
students in math that are almost impossible to accomplish otherwise. 
The instant feedback and the emphasis on mastery ensure that students
do not just coast through the program without truly learning the
material.  While the teacher (or someone) still has to do much of the
teaching, students can be much more independent much of the time, and
can cruise quickly through objectives that come easily to them.  I
have never made it through the end of the math book with any of my
classes - I'm lucky to get past the halfway point with some of them. 
But with AM, motivated students can master EVERY SINGLE objective for
the grade level library they work through, eliminating the gaps I see
in the math skills of most of my students.

Dwight Blubaugh
Northwestern Elem.
Eaton Rapids, MI

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