Math Network Visits High-Performing Middle Schools

By Rebecca Parshall 10 months ago

Learn4Life’s Eighth-Grade Math Network recently visited three of our region’s highest-performing middle schools. Network members selected Drew Charter School, Rex Mill Middle School, and Freedom Middle school from a list of 23 schools that showed exceptionally high proficiency and growth on the state’s eighth grade math tests. All data is for schools’ economically disadvantaged student populations, and is compared against L4L’s region of eight metro Atlanta school districts.

Drew Charter School (Atlanta Public Schools)

  • 20.6% higher than region in EOG proficiency
  • 34% higher than region in EOC proficiency
  • 14.9% increase in EOG growth from 2016-2017

Rex Mill Middle School (Clayton County Public Schools)

  • 30.6% higher than region in EOC proficiency
  • 14.1% increase in EOC growth from 2016-2017

Freedom Middle School (Dekalb County School District)

  • 9.1% increase in EOG growth from 2016-2017
  • 23.5% increase in EOC growth from 2016-2017

(*EOG = End-of-Grade test, which covers 8th grade math. EOC = End-of-Course test, which is for students who take 9th grade algebra in 8th grade).

The purpose of these school visits was to understand what strategies the schools are implementing in the areas of school culture, teacher effectiveness, and interventions for struggling learners. Information gathered in these three factors will guide the network’s bright spot selection process. Our key takeaways are listed below; while some of these strategies were specific to one of the schools, many were implemented by all three schools.

School Culture

  • School STEM certification
  • Many extra-curricular offerings
  • A-day/B-day block scheduling
  • Clear expectations, routines, and rituals
  • Continual celebration of staff and students
  • Focus on relationship-building
  • Positive behavior support systems/decrease in suspensions

Teacher Effectiveness

  • Meaningful, twice weekly collaborative planning across content and grade-level teams
  • Regular outside and school-based engagement in professional development
  • Teacher autonomy in curriculum decisions
  • 8th grade math teachers are high school certified/experienced
  • Increased/higher than expected teacher retention

Interventions for Struggling Learners

  • Regular data conferences with students
  • Emphasis on real-world application
  • All students have two math and two ELA blocks; one is to provide interventions
  • Interventions integrated into lunch periods, school clubs, and content classes

  Eighth-Grade Math
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