Mastering the TEKS for Algebra Readiness—Lufkin Middle School

Area:
Mathematics/Algebra Readiness

Campus/District:
Lufkin Middle School
Lufkin Independent School District

Overview:
Lufkin Middle School (LMS) serves a student population (total = 1,780 ) that is 31% African American, 31% Hispanic, 37% White, 1% Asian/Pacific Islander, 69% economically disadvantaged, 6% limited English proficient (LEP), and 34% at risk.

The percentage of LMS students (all students) passing mathematics TAKS has increased from 80% in 2005–06 to 89% in 2009–10.  Over the same time period, the percentage of African American students passing has increased from 67% to 82%, the percentage of Hispanic students passing increased from 78% to 89%, and the percentage of economically disadvantaged students passing increased from 73% to 85% (see Supporting Evidence for more information).

LMS was identified as an Algebra Readiness Exemplar Campus by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to share best practices with campuses applying for TEA Algebra Readiness grants. 

In this summary, find out how the campus:

  • Provided extended learning time in mathematics through scheduling and tutoring
  • Structured collaborative teacher planning time to facilitate a team approach to address student needs and grade-level coherence in mathematics instruction
  • Developed a non-textbook curricular approach based on strict adherence to teaching the grade-level TEKS in depth
  • Shared activities and common assessments to align instruction and facilitate data review while still allowing for teacher flexibility and autonomy in classroom teaching
  • Utilized a variety of activities and relationship building strategies to enhance student engagement

Strategies that are aligned with research-based and TEA-identified key practices for Algebra Readiness programming, include (see Research Base for more information):

  • Extended learning time for mathematics
  • Instructional coaching
  • Effective professional development
  • Common planning time
  • Effective supplemental resources
  • Administrator training
  • Appropriate technology
  • Active, ongoing student engagement
  • Guidance and communication for parents

Implementation

Context:

  • Staff reported that the campus mathematics department has been working with its regional education service center (ESC) over the last 13 years to transform mathematics instruction. Emphasis was on teaching for understanding, and teachers cited the TEXTEAMS proportionality training formerly offered by the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin as being particularly influential.
  • The campus has 28 mathematics teachers.
  • LMS was identified as an Algebra Readiness Exemplar Campus by TEA and the Institute for Public School Initiatives (IPSI) at the University of Texas at Austin, a TEA Algebra Readiness technical assistance provider. Exemplars were identified based on review of National Center for Educational Achievement data scores and growth measures as well as interviews and classroom observations conducted by IPSI. To support grantees of TEA’s Middle School Students in Texas: Algebra Ready Pilot (MSTAR) and Algebra Readiness programs, IPSI then documented best practices at exemplar campuses. Grantees were required as part of the planning stages of their grants to visit exemplar campuses and talk with staff about strategies and implementation. For more information about TEA Algebra Readiness initiatives, see http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index2.aspx?id=8373&menu_id=814

Demographics 2009–10
Demographics Table 2009-10: Grade levels served 6-8. Campus Enrollment 1,780. Ethnic Distribution: African American 552, 31.0%. Hispanic 555, 31.2%. White 649, 36.5%, Asian/Pacific Islander 22, 1.2%. Economically Disadvantaged 1,236, 69.4%, Limited English Proficient (LEP) 102, 5.7%. At Risk 603, 33.9%. Mobility (2008-09) 206, 10.8%.
Source: Academic Excellence Indicator System

Accountability Rating:
Recognized (2009–10)

Implementation Highlights:

 Implementation Highlights: 2000-01 schedule changed to provide 90 minutes of daily math instruction and a common planning time for grade levels; 2002-08 after-school tutoring program, Parent Math Nights, TEXTEAMS training for teachers and administrators; 2008-present common lessons and assessments.

Strategies/Approaches:

Increased instructional time for mathematics

  • In 2000–01, the campus switched from a seven-period day to an ABC schedule in which mathematics and reading/English language arts (ELA) were taught for 90 minutes each day, and social studies and science were taught for 90 minutes every other day.
  • Within this structure the campus offered four levels of mathematics classes:
    • On grade-level or regular mathematics courses
    • Pre-AP mathematics courses (open enrollment) targeting students who performed at the Commended level on mathematics TAKS. Students meeting this criterion were encouraged to enroll; if they did not enroll, staff contacted the students’ parents to explain the benefits of participation.
    • “Magnet" mathematics courses based on TAKS performance, grades, and teacher recommendation. These courses provided the most advanced level of instruction that teachers described as in-depth, project-based, and problem-solving oriented. Approximately 60 students per grade level were enrolled in these courses. Staff reported that Grade 8 Algebra was offered as a magnet course. Teachers used results on the Iowa Algebra Aptitude Test, mathematics grades/scores, and TAKS performance history to recommend Grade 7 Pre-AP students for participation, though enrollment was open.
    • A course for students in Grades 7–8 that was co-taught by a mathematics teacher and a special education teacher. Added in 2008–09, this course was designed for students who were struggling in mathematics, who participated in modified TAKS, or who were considered “bubble” students.
  • An after-school tutoring program was offered four days per week. Teachers recommended that students attend tutoring based on classroom performance. The mathematics department also reviewed data to identify students who would benefit from tutoring. Students were encouraged to attend, but attendance was voluntary and flexible. In general, homework support was provided during fall tutoring, while spring tutoring was geared toward TAKS preparation. Tutoring sessions lasted for one hour. The after-school program was staffed by teachers on a voluntary basis, and supplemental pay was provided. Bus transportation and a light meal for students were provided with district support. 

Curriculum enhancement through teacher collaboration

  • The campus utilized a grade-level teaming structure, and every grade level had its own 90-minute planning time every day while students attended elective classes. Mathematics teachers collaborated by grade level twice a week to review curriculum, plan lessons, and reflect on assessment data. Teachers also worked as interdisciplinary teams twice a week.
  • A campus mathematics instructional coach attended all grade-level departmental meetings to assist with alignment across grade levels, facilitate data review, and develop benchmark assessments.
  • Over the summer and throughout the year during departmental planning periods, grade-level mathematics teachers worked on the campus-developed mathematics curriculum, re-evaluating scope and sequence and refining and adding activities and lessons. Staff reported that the curriculum was not textbook driven. Teachers used resources such as Agile Mind, TEXTEAMS, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics’ (NCTM) Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School resources, professional books, materials from ESC Region 7, and various websites. Lesson plans and resource materials were housed electronically so that all teachers could have access.
  • In writing the mathematics curriculum, teachers shared responsibilities in creating engaging lessons and assessments. The mathematics curriculum provided an instructional calendar, a recommended instructional approach, and resources by concept that individual teachers used as a guide, adapting the curriculum to their own teaching style and class needs.
  • Staff emphasized that the curriculum was characterized by strict adherence to teaching the grade-level TEKS, an approach not found in most textbooks. Teachers were required to teach only their grade-level TEKS and to familiarize themselves with the TEKS below and above their grade level to ensure that they knew the difference. Staff reported that this approach was adopted because it was essential to ensure that students mastered content and concepts for their grade level before moving on.
  • In terms of assessment, teachers could incorporate their own quizzes into instruction to monitor student learning but common unit tests and benchmarks developed by the campus mathematics instructional coach were used to provide common data to review and to modify instruction. Three unit tests and one benchmark were administered every nine weeks.
  • Staff also reported an emphasis on including varied activities in instruction to keep students engaged, using manipulatives, technology, and websites to visualize content concepts. One teacher reported using student-developed videos in which partners worked out problems to serve as review material later in the year. Staff also reported that some teachers used peer teaching and small group techniques to keep students engaged in learning.
  • Once every six weeks, all mathematics teachers in a grade level conducted a common lesson. Then they brought student work from the lesson to discuss during departmental meeting time, make changes, and then decide to incorporate into a library of lessons that all mathematics teachers could use.

Parent involvement

  • Grade-level teams scheduled regular conferences with parents during the grade-level team meeting time and reported frequent communication with parents by phone and email as well.
  • In 2005–06, the department began holding Math Nights to present strategies for teaching key mathematical concepts to parents with a particular focus on the different forms of modeling as parents typically were unfamiliar with this approach. The goal was to help parents understand how mathematics was taught to their children so that they could support them at home. Staff reported that ideally Math Nights would be scheduled at the beginning of each unit, but that so far, typically 2-3 events were held each year. Staff reported that participation varied but often involved the same group of parents.
  • The campus also offered an annual Hispanic parent night to encourage parent involvement that was well attended and that provided food and entertainment, including student performances. Staff reported that the campus was offering more opportunities like this to bring parents to school.

Relationship building

  • Staff reported that frequent data review allowed teachers to become very familiar with student needs and allowed them to provide significant individualized instruction in the classroom, which helped to build strong student-teacher relationships.
  • The campus principal also regularly engaged speakers or initiated activities such as book studies on developing relationships with students to help teachers understand the positive impact they could have on students’ lives.
  • The campus also had a school-based mentoring program for identified struggling students. Students were asked to list adults (including current or previous teachers, administrators, or other staff) on the campus to whom they felt close, and the principal paired up staff members and students. Mentors were charged with keeping up with the student’s work and working with them to provide encouragement.
  • The campus also coordinated with community-based mentoring programs as needed to provide additional support for at-risk students.
  • Extracurricular activities through an after-school Math Club and UIL mathematics groups helped build student confidence.

Training: 
Staff reported that teachers attended a variety of trainings and then shared strategies at the campus. Training included the following:

  • ESC Region 4 training
  • ESC Region 7 training
  • TEXTEAMS training
  • MSTAR academies
  • CAMT
  • Agile Mind
  • Regional NCTM events
  • Schlechty Working on the Work conferences
  • Differentiated instruction, high-level questioning, and INOVA training

Resources, Cost Components, and Sources of Funding:
The practice was supported with a combination of local campus/district funds and grants, including a TEA GEAR UP grant, an external State Farm grant, special education funds, and state compensatory education funding to support extra duty pay, transportation, professional development, and supplies.

Cost components included the following:

  • Teacher training (TEA GEAR UP grant, State Farm grant)
  • Supplemental pay for tutoring (Compensatory Education)
  • Bus transportation for tutoring (Compensatory Education)

Lessons Learned

Strengths/Challenges:

  • Staff reported that strengths of the program included:
    • Highly engaging lessons developed collaboratively by highly trained teachers focused on problem-solving and higher level thinking skills
    • Time to collaborate by grade levels twice a week
    • Provision of an instructional coach working with all teachers to provide communication and continuity in curriculum across grade levels
    • Common lessons and common assessments so teachers could have collaborative, reflective conversations about curriculum and instruction
    • The ability to share resources with other teachers and parents and students through the school website and class web pages, including PowerPoint presentations, class notes, examples, instructional videos, technology links to additional resources, and homework assignments
    • Early identification of targeted students to provide ongoing support
    • Early and continual positive communication with parents through conferences, phone calls, and emails
    • A low teacher turnover rate because teachers felt supported and empowered
  • Staff also reported that the campus leadership had been very supportive in funding requests for new materials, training, and manipulatives.
  • Staff reported that the district recognized that the additional time on task in mathematics provided by the campus schedule was critical to the improvements seen in student performance.
  • Staff reported that teacher efforts to develop strong relationships with students resulted in students working harder for their teachers. 
  • Reported challenges included the following:
    • Limited staff development opportunities for mathematics teachers to meet vertically across grade levels for collaborative discussion, including meeting with teachers from feeder elementary campuses and the high schools
    • Parents not being able to assist their children with mathematics homework
    • Limited funding for additional staff development opportunities
    • Effectively reflecting on data to support instructional change

Supporting Evidence

Evidence Type:
Established Best Practice

Overview of Evidence:
The percentage of LMS students (all students) passing mathematics TAKS improved from 80% passing in 2005–06, compared to the state average of 72% and a peer campus group average of 68%, 1, 2 to 89% passing in 2009–10, compared to the state average of 81% and the peer campus group average of 79%. All comparisons were statistically significant (p<.05). Chart 1 shows trend data comparing the percentage of LMS students passing mathematics TAKS to the state and peer campus group averages from 2005–06 to 2009–10.

The percentage of LMS student groups passing mathematics TAKS also improved. For LMS African American students, the percentage passing increased from 67% in 2005–06, compared to the state average of 57% and the peer campus group average of 56%, to 82% passing in 2009–10, compared to the state average for African American students of 70% and the peer campus group average of 70%. For Hispanic students, the percentage passing increased from 78% in 2005–06, compared to the state average of 65% and the peer campus group average of 64%, to 89% passing in 2009–10, compared to the state average for Hispanic students of 77% and the peer campus group average of 79%. For economically disadvantaged students, the percentage passing increased from 73% in 2005–06, compared to the state average of 63% and the peer campus group average of 61%, to 85% passing in 2009–10, compared to the state average for economically disadvantaged students of 75% and the peer campus group average of 76%. All comparisons were statistically significant (p<.05). Chart 2 shows trend data comparing the percentage of LMS student groups passing mathematics TAKS compared to state and peer campus group averages for similar students from 2005–06 to 2009–10.

Lufkin-Chart1: In 2005-06, 80% of the school's students passed mathematics TAKS, compared to the peer average of 68% and the state average of 72%. In 2006-07, 83% of the school's students passed mathematics TAKS, compared to the peer average of 70% and the state average of 75%. In 2007-08, 84% of the school's students passed mathematics TAKS, compared to the peer average of 75% and the state average of 77%. In 2008-09, 90% of the school's students passed mathematics TAKS, compared to the peer average of 77% and the state average of 79%. In 2009-10, 89% of the school's students passed mathematics TAKS, compared to the peer average of 79% and the state average of 81%.
Source: Texas Assessment Management System
Note: Grade 8 data are from TAKS primary administration.

Lufkin-Chart2: In 2005-06, 67% of the school's African American (AA) students passed mathematics TAKS, compared to the peer AA average of 56% and the state AA average of 57%. In 2006-07, 72% of the school's AA students passed mathematics TAKS, compared to the peer AA average of 56% and the state AA average of 62%. In 2007-08, 72% of the school's AA students passed mathematics TAKS, compared to the peer AA average of 65% and the state AA average of 64%. In 2008-09, 83% of the school's AA students passed mathematics TAKS, compared to the peer AA average of 66% and the state AA average of 67%. In 2009-10, 82% of the school's AA students passed mathematics TAKS, compared to the peer AA average of 70% and the state AA average of 70%. In 2005-06, 78% of the school's Hispanic (H) students passed mathematics TAKS, compared to the peer H average of 64% and the state H average of 65%. In 2006-07, 81% of the school's H students passed mathematics TAKS, compared to the peer H average of 67% and the state H average of 76%. In 2007-08, 84% of the school's H students passed mathematics TAKS, compared to the peer H average of 74% and the state H average of 72%. In 2008-09, 88% of the school's H students passed mathematics TAKS, compared to the peer H average of 76% and the state H average of 75%. In 2009-10, 89% of the school's H students passed mathematics TAKS, compared to the peer H average of 79% and the state H average of 77%. In 2005-06, 73% of the school's economically disadvantaged (eco dis) students passed mathematics TAKS, compared to the peer eco dis average of 61% and the state eco dis average of 63%. In 2006-07, 78% of the school's eco dis students passed mathematics TAKS, compared to the peer eco dis average of 65% and the state eco dis average of 67%. In 2007-08, 80% of the school's eco dis students passed mathematics TAKS, compared to the peer eco dis average of 70% and the state eco dis average of 70%. In 2008-09, 86% of the school's eco dis students passed mathematics TAKS, compared to the peer eco dis average of 73% and the state eco disaverage of 72%. In 2009-10, 85% of the school's eco dis students passed mathematics TAKS, compared to the peer eco dis average of 76% and the state eco dis average of 75%.
Source: Texas Assessment Management System
Note: Grade 8 data are from TAKS primary administration.

Research Base: 

Contact Information

Lufkin Middle School
Lufkin Independent School District
900 E Denman Ave.
Lufkin, TX 75901
(936) 630-4444
       

End Notes

1Peer campuses were identified using the campus groups used in Academic Excellence Indicator System (AEIS) reporting. For more information on how campus groups are identified, see the AEIS Glossary, http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/perfreport/aeis/2009/glossary.html.

2 All averages are weighted averages including the number of test takers for the grade level(s) of the practice.

Posted/Revised:
2011