Math in Focus: Southern Valley School District
At a glance
  • Demonstrates a Rationale
  • Program: Math in Focus®: Singapore Math® by Marshall Cavendish®
  • Subject: Math
  • Report Type: Efficacy Study
  • Grade Level: Elementary
  • Region: Midwest
  • District Urbanicity: Rural
  • District Size: Small
  • District: Southern Valley School District, Oxford, NE
  • Outcome Measure: Nebraska State Accountability
  • Evaluation Period: 2014–2015
  • Study Conducted by: HMH Research
School District Overview

Southern Valley School District is a rural school district in Oxford, Nebraska, with one elementary school and one secondary school. The district has a current enrollment of over 400 students in Grades Pre-K–12. The professional staff includes 87 teachers, with approximately 47 support personnel and administrators.

Southern Valley School District is eligible for Title I assistance. Ninety percent of the students are White and the remaining student body consists of students identified as Hispanic (6%) or other (4%). Seventeen percent of the students have an Individualized Education Program (IEP).

Nebraska Testing Program

The Nebraska State Accountability (NeSA) is taken by all students in Grades 3–8, in the spring. The test includes assessment of reading, math, and science. The test focuses on how well students have acquired the skills and knowledge described in the state Common Core Learning Standards.

At Grades 3–5, the NeSA-M is comprised of multiple-choice, short-constructed response, and extended-response items covering four domains equally distributed across the tests: Number Sense, Geometric/Measurement, Algebraic, and Data Analysis/Probability Concepts.

The Nebraska state test scores are categorized into one of three levels of mastery including Level 1 (Not Proficient), Level 2 (Meets), and Level 3 (Exceeds). Students scoring at Levels 2 and 3 are said to excel and demonstrate knowledge, skills, and practices embodied by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the National Assessment of Educational Progress Standards for Mathematics.


To determine if Math in Focus had an impact on learning, student NeSA State mathematics test scores from the Spring of 2014, prior to using the program, and the Spring of 2015, after one year of usage, were obtained for Grades 3, 4, and 5. These findings are presented in Figure 1.

The comparison of achievement scores revealed that at all grade levels examined, the percentage of students scoring at Levels 2 and 3 were greater in 2015, after using Math in Focus, than the previous year with an average gain of over 23%.

5.3 Math In Focus Research And Efficacy Graph P12 1
FIGURE 1. Percent of Students Scoring Proficient/Advanced

This one-year examination of the implementation of Math in Focus at Southern Valley School District revealed that the program was associated with increased mathematics achievement.