Q&A #662

Programs/materials for low achieving/unmotivated students

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From: Claudia (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Oct 27, 1998 at 22:52:30
Subject: Re: Programs/materials for low achieving/unmotivated students

It is important on the elementary level for teachers to have a depth of knowledge in all the core curriculum areas, communication skills, mathematics, social studies and science. That wasn't always addressed by universities preparing teachers for the classroom in the past. The best strategy in Minneapolis for teaching mathematics for all students is to implement the new mathematics curricula developed with support from NSF and designed to meet the NCTM Standards and the needs expressed in "Everybody Counts" and other national documents. In Minneapolis, we are a dissemination site for the Interactive Mathematics Program (IMP) at the high school level and the Connected Mathematics Program (CMP) at the middle school level. Currently about 1/5 of the Minneapolis high school students work in the IMP program and by next fall about 3/5 of the Minneapolis middles school will be using CMP. In Minnesota, there is a new 8th Grade Basic Standards test that must be passed before graduation. This is a conceptual test that uses calculators and test problems are in a setting that students must understand in order to answer correctly. In Minnesota CMP, STEM or MathScape are the most successful strategies to help all students meet the requirements of the Minnesota 8th Grade Basic Standards test. In addition, starting this year, Minnesota students must successfully pass 24 High Standards Profiles of Performance Packages (3 of these packages are in Mathematics including Probability and Statistics or Discrete Mathematics). The High Standards imply three years of mathematics work in grades 9-12 and open-ended assessments that involve investigations and require written and/or oral reports. The NSF curricula, high school curricula IMP, ARISE, CORE+, middle school curricula CMP, STEM and MathScape are being implemented in 21 school districts in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. We have a major NSF Local Systemic Change grant at the University of Minnesota to provide 130 hours implementation staff development for 500 teachers for the above curricula. The Minnesota Graduation Rule is a major driving force behind this movement. Schools that implement these NSF curricula can use the embedded curriculum assessments and do not have to do additional performance packages for graduation. These new curricula require major teacher efforts to implement, but more students are learning better mathematics. There are some people who wish these new curricula would go away. This is our best advice for detracking the mathematics curriculum and working with all students. I hope this is some help to mathematics teachers struggling to meet the needs of all students. Raising state expectations for graduation and providing the curricula and staff development required is an expensive solution, but I think it is time for us to step forward and do something constructive about our student's needs. The results of the traditional mathematics practice is not that great for many students and we should try to improve our practice. -Claudia, for the Teacher2Teacher service

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