The Matanuska-Susitna School District outside of Anchorage, Alaska, faced a challenge shared by schools and districts across the country: How can we raise math achievement for below-basic middle school students and prepare them for algebra?
In 2013, 1 out of 4 sixth-grade students in Matanuska-Susitna, a district outside of Anchorage, were performing far below proficient on state test results, and the statistics were similar for eighth-grade students. 133 sixth grade students at five schools across the district used MATH 180 during the 2013-2014 school year. The district doubled the number of students enrolled for the 2014–2015 school year and expanded the program to include sixth- and seventh-grade students. The students selected for the program were identified as being in need of Tier 3 intervention.
MATH 180 Helps Matanuska-Susitna School District Make Gains and Close the Achievement Gap
Based on test scores, district leaders could see they had a big need for supporting Tier 3 students in math. Classes were already set up for these students, but there was no consistent, district-wide program in place with support for teachers. The previous math programs they used lacked progress-monitoring tools, and evidence for success was anecdotal. The district needed consistency across classes and a way of measuring comparative data to see where the program was working.
After just one year with MATH 180, participating students who were two or more years behind outperformed the expected growth metrics. Five schools implemented MATH 180 during the 2013–2014 school year, and 133 sixth graders were enrolled. The district saw such an increase in student gains that they doubled enrollment for the 2014–2015 school year and made the program available to seventh-grade classes—so that students who started the program could continue learning.
The district reported higher results among students using MATH 180 versus similar Tier 3 students in the district who used different mathematics intervention programs. Students moved from below basic to more advanced levels of performance on the HMH Math Inventory®. On average, students gained 149 Quantile® measures on the Math Inventory, with some students showing gains of more than 200 Quantile measures in just one quarter. Teachers reported a shift in students’ mindset, from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset, after being exposed to mindset thinking with MATH 180.