Wednesday, 13 September 2017 05:45

Chinook School Division reports small decline in math scores

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There has been a slight decline in overall math scores for grades 3, 6 and 9 in the Chinook School Division.


Curriculum coordinator Ed Varjassy presented the results from the most recent assessment of math scores at a regular Chinook School Division board meeting, Aug. 28.
Grade 3, 6 and 9 students were assessed in June 2017. Their math scores indicated that 76.4 per cent of students were meeting or exceeding expectations. This is a decline of 0.8 per cent in comparison with June 2016, when 77.2 per cent of Grade 3, 6 and 9 students were meeting or exceeding expectations.
Varjassy still feels positive about the results, because the Math Momentum initiative is currently in a maintenance phase and there was not such a big focus on math than during the initial four years of the plan.
“There was not a lot of extra work put into helping teachers with math,” he said. “I think for me a highlight was seeing that we didn't have a significant drop. Although we dropped 0.8 per cent, it was less than one per cent and we've maintained what we've built over the last six years.”
This was the first time since 2011, when the school division started the initiative to improve math results, that there was a decline in the percentage of students meeting or exceeding math expectations.
However, the latest results still compare well with the baseline date from 2011, when only 46.6 per cent of students in Grade 3, 6 and 9 were meeting or exceeding expectations.
The maintenance phase for the Math Momentum initiative started in the 2015-16 school year, and overall still increased from 75.3 per cent in 2015 to 77.2 per cent in 2016. There is a noticeable difference in the overall math scores for the different grades. Grade 3 math scores actually increased from 86.9 per cent meeting or exceeding expectations in 2016 to 87 per cent in 2017.
Grade 6 math scored showed the most significant decrease of three per cent. The results dropped from 82.1 per cent meeting or exceeding expectations in 2016 to 79.1 per cent in 2017.
The math scores for Grade 9 who are meeting or exceeding expectations are still the lowest of the three grade levels, but it has actually showed the most significant improvement. The overall Grade 9 math scores increased with 1.6 per cent from 61.8 per cent in 2016 to 63.4 per cent 2017.
The Chinook School Division will not have the same level of resources available now for Math Momentum than in previous years, but Varjassy feels the initiative has provided teachers with a solid groundwork.
“I think we are fortunate the way we did things in Chinook,” he said. “We were timely. When we had some resources available to us over the last few years, we had coaches in place and they worked with our teachers, provided lots of professional development for them and we've got them in a really good place.”
The Math Momentum maintenance plan will continue during the 2017-18 school year. One math coach is available to provide support to new teachers.
“We will work with our new teachers,” he said. “We have some resources and coaching that we will be dedicating to working with our new teachers and bringing them up to speed with how we do things in Chinook.”
The existing math intervention programs for grades K to 2 and 6 to 9 will continue during the 2017-18 school year. These programs focus on students who are not meeting expectations for math. A tier 3 level intervention will also be introduced for 2017-18 with a focus on the early years.
“The last couple of years we have been working at implementing an intervention program where we work with some of those students that are not at grade level, particularly at grades K to 2,” he said. “We do some work with any students that are falling behind and we also work with our grades 6 to 9. The intervention programs that we put in place the last few years have been quite successful. They’re working well.”
The province is developing a holistic rubric in math as part of the Saskatchewan Education Sector Strategic Plan. The Chinook School Division will develop a plan to use this rubric and to report the results to the province.
The requirement from the province is that the school division will have to start reporting individual student results on the provincial math rubric for grades 2, 5 and 8 in the 2018-19 school year. Varjassy believes this reporting requirement will help to keep the focus on math results.
“I think that will create a heightened awareness in our teachers,” he said. “We worked with them a lot over the last five to six years and so I think that heightened awareness will just bring that to the forefront again and math won’t be left on the back burner. I think we have a staff that does a really good job with teaching math.”

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Matthew Liebenberg

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