Brighton Area Schools Pushing Focus to Math Instruction
Maltby Intermediate School recently implemented a 90-minute math block as part of the district's push to improve students understanding and testing in math.
Recently released 2012 Meap data shows that Brighton Area Schools math scores went up across the board from 2011 in every grade except for sixth and seventh-graders.
Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Laura Surrey credits the huge gain in math results to changes like extending math instructional times in grades K-4 last spring. Surrey said the decline seen at middle school levels is due to the fact that Maltby Intermediate School did not devote as much time to math as district elementary schools.
"Fifth grade scores are based on fourth-grade instruction," she said. "Maltby focused on the essentials, but didn't have as much as an emphasis on math."
However, Maltby recently implemented a 90-minute math block last month to focus on direct, targeted math instruction, according to Maltby Principal Scott Brenner.
Previously, fifth and sixth graders at Maltby spent about an hour, sometimes a little less, on math instruction. Brenner says the switch better coincides with the district's new math curriculum, Everyday Math.
"All of the (Everday Math) lessons targeted about 75 minutes of instruction per lesson," Brenner said. "Really, we felt to implement the curriculum the way it was written, we needed more time."
The additional time devoted to math did not change the school start or end times, but instead borrows a little time spent on social studies and science instruction, Brenner said.
"Our schedules in this building looks more like an elementary school schedule than a middle school schedule. We have teaching teams of two and kids move back and forth between two teachers. It's a little more fluid than typical middle school schedule."
As to why the school would make a switch this large in the middle of the school year, Brenner said staff felt they simply couldn't wait.
"Kids are very flexible and very accommodating in terms of scheduling," he said. "And really, we didn't want to wait, but we weren't ready at the beginning of the year to do it."
Surrey predicts middle school math testing scores to jump next spring, saying that students really need about four to five months of the new program to see if it will have an affect.
Brenner said that so far, the feedback from the staff has been very positive.
"I've had feedback from staff that they don't feel as rushed," he said. There's been a lot of positive feedback from staff feeling like they have more time with the kids trying to make sure they understand the concepts and solidify them."
Have you noticed a change in your child's understanding of math? Tell us in the comments.