Thursday, February 7, 2013

Traditional/Reform Math Balance -- Stop the Pendulum!

Well - today was the Wisconsin ACT conference.  I been looking hard at my data for about week and the presentation went well today!

Not only was I able to show what Juda has been doing to improve math scores, but I really feel like I am walking between the traditional and reform math - I am nearly dead center between the peaks of the pendulum swing of reform math and traditional.  Taking a little of both and making it work.

The crux of my presentation is using the ACT low band standards to create reoccurring quizzes coupled to student expectation/accountability to  raise ACT scores.  The presentation walks the 3 year path I have taken to raise scores.  The data is pretty good too!  I show a good correlation between the changes that have been done to raise ACT scores from 21.2 (ish) to 22.6 (ish) -- {with R^2 value of 0.68}.

The results are good, it is definitely the traditional thought of math taking about 20 minutes per week to have recursive quizzes that are majority of a student's math grade; but as I finished I dearly wished for more time in my speech today at the ACT conference to describe the other 180 minutes of my class per week.  The mixture of concepts, discovery and large projects with multiple answers (the reform side).

I also think the reason there is success at Juda is the continuous improvement approach we are taking in the math program.  Never moving too fast, doing incremental change with target improvement goals always in the front of our team's mind.  I am very excited now to make the next step.  I really believe we are on our way for another full point of improvement in the next year.  So basically from 21 to 23.5 - that is a 10 percent improvement!  At the same time more of the students are prepared for college credit math.....

So today was a good day, a day to "bask" a little.  But I hope people see it and can use it too.  'Cause as math instructors we need to stop the chaos of the huge pendulum swings - we need to map the plans and make the improvements.