Targeted Supplemental Algebra Readiness Support for Struggling Students—James S. Hogg Middle School

Area: 
Mathematics/Algebra Readiness

Campus/District:
James S. Hogg Middle School
Tyler Independent School District

Overview:
James S. Hogg Middle School (HMS) serves a student population (total = 505) that is 32% African American, 53% Hispanic, 15% White, 80% economically disadvantaged, 28% limited English proficient (LEP), and 63% at risk.

The percentage of Grade 7 students participating in programming for struggling students passing mathematics TAKS increased from 2.4% passing in 2008–09, prior to program participation, to 40.9% passing in 2009–10. Of the Grade 8 students participating in the program, 6.5% passed mathematics TAKS in 2008–09, and 62.5% passed after participating in the program (see Supporting Evidence for more information).  

In this summary, find out how the campus:

  • Used a TEA Middle School Students in Texas: Algebra Ready (MSTAR) Pilot grant to implement intensive algebra readiness programming for targeted groups of struggling students in Grades 7–8
  • Provided extended learning time through double-blocked mathematics courses for target groups
  • Integrated lesson extensions and technology-based activities using a supplemental curriculum package to enhance mathematics instruction
  • Integrated use of additional technology resources with local funding into intervention programming to enhance student engagement
  • Supported participating teachers with professional development, ongoing coaching, and planning time
  • Extended the programming to Grade 6 to provide additional support for struggling students at each grade level at the campus
  • Created another option to support more struggling students in mathematics through additional double-blocked mathematics courses

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:

  • To address consistently low mathematics performance at several Tyler ISD (TISD) middle schools, district staff investigated programs implemented by high-performing campuses nationwide and identified the Texas Instruments (TI) MathForward™ program as a supplemental curriculum resource to support struggling students. The TI MathForward™ curriculum was selected because of its alignment with National Mathematics Advisory Panel recommendations for improving algebra readiness and its emphasis on technology and problem-based activities, which staff believed would engage and motivate students. Staff then conducted campus visits to sites within the state implementing the program. However, at the time, the campus did not have the funding to purchase the program and train teachers.
  • In August 2009, the district applied for and was awarded a Middle School Students in Texas: Algebra Ready (MSTAR) Pilot grant. The MSTAR Pilot (August 2009–May 2011) was created to serve as an early test of strategies to be used in TEA’s Algebra Readiness Initiative, which was designed to increase the preparedness of middle school students to be successful in Algebra I and to meet standards on the Algebra I end-of-course test (for more information, see http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index2.aspx?id=8373&menu_id=814).
  • With the grant, TISD purchased the MathForward™ program for two middle school campuses in the district, HMS and Dogan Middle School, and began training.
  • HMS is one of six middle schools in the district, which is located in the Piney Woods area of east Texas.
  • HMS also implements the International Baccalaureate® (IB) Middle Years Programme, which has a student participation rate of approximately 20%.

Demographics 2009–10
Demographics Table 2009-10. Grade levels served: 6-8. Campus/District Enrollment 505. Ethnic Distribution: African American 160, 31.7%; Hispanic 269, 53.3%; White 75, 14.9%; Economically Disadvantaged 403, 79.8%; Limited English Proficient (LEP) 141, 27.9%; At Risk 319, 63.2%; Mobility (2008-09) 116, 18.7%.
Source: Academic Excellence Indicator System

Accountability Rating:
Recognized (2009–10)

Implementation Highlights:

Implementation Highlights: 2008-09 research, identified curriculum package, campus visits; MSTAR pilot grant awarded August 09. 2009-10 courses implemented; mathematics performance gains on 2010 TAKS; 2010-11 expansion to Grade 6; additional double-blocked courses added.

Strategies/Approaches:

Extended learning time, curriculum enhancements, and teacher training

  • The campus created a double-blocked (90-minute) mathematics course for students in Grade 7 and in Grade 8 identified as struggling by district and campus staff based on review of prior-year TAKS data.
  • Campus principals then identified one Grade 7 and one Grade 8 teacher to participate in training and teach the course, integrating the use of the MathForward program with the district curriculum. Teachers were chosen based on their content knowledge, willingness to try innovative approaches, and ability to establish good relationships with struggling students. Teachers were not paid a stipend.
  • As part of the MathForward™ contract, TI provided an external coach to train, model, and facilitate classroom-based professional development. External coaches trained teachers and worked with district mathematics facilitators to build capacity and provide ongoing, embedded support to teachers.
  • Initial professional development consisted of a four-day training provided by the external coach at the beginning of the 2009–10 academic year to introduce teachers and district staff to the technology and instructional approaches promoted through the program.1 
  • Students were then assigned to the two participating MSTAR Pilot teachers’ classes. Three sections per grade level were offered.

Coaching and collaborative planning

  • District mathematics specialists served as coaches to campus teachers, working with them on an ongoing basis to integrate the MathForward program with the district curriculum and to provide ongoing support and monitoring of classroom implementation.
  • The campus arranged for participating teachers to share a common planning time during which grade-level teachers from both middle schools piloting the MathForward course met to share strategies and plan lesson delivery. Participating teachers also met approximately two times per week with the district middle school mathematics facilitator to integrate curriculum, review data, and develop the course. Participating teachers also met across grade levels every other week to plan vertically.
  • Additionally, participating teachers spent one day each six weeks preparing for the upcoming six weeks, learning and reviewing content, and modeling use of technology and manipulatives that students would be expected to master.
  • Both external TI and district coaches frequently visited classrooms to model lessons and support program implementation.

Technology and student engagement

  • Staff reported that the technology focus of the MathForward program was a big motivator for students, and the district supported integration of additional technology resources into the course for struggling students. Examples included the use of graphing calculators, which were provided by the district for implementation districtwide, and integration of a wireless classroom learning system that included handheld units for student responses and immediate teacher feedback. The wireless system was purchased with MSTAR grant funds and integrated into the MathForward™ course. The use of the systems allowed teachers to ask students to demonstrate problem-solving approaches, to check for understanding, and to project solutions for everyone to see.
  • The district also leveraged local funds to purchase smartboards and to mount projectors in participating teachers’ classrooms.

 Administrator training and monitoring

  • The MathForward™ program also provided a half-day administrator training session that included video demonstrations of appropriate classroom implementation and observation/walkthrough training.
  • Additionally, the external coaches used feedback forms each time they visited participating teachers’ classrooms, documenting both strengths and areas for continued development. These forms were distributed to teachers, campus administrators, and district coaches so that ongoing support could be designed accordingly. These forms also facilitated ongoing communication between program participants.
  • District coaches coordinated data meetings with HMS administrators to review benchmark data and assess program progress. 

Guidance and communication with parents

  • HMS hosted several presentations for the parents of participating students to introduce them to the new technology, let them use it, and observe a teacher demonstration.
  • Staff reported a high level of parent support for the program due to both student enthusiasm as well as improved mathematics performance.

 Expansion of strategies

  • Based on the success of the initial year of the pilot, in 2010–11, HMS identified and trained a Grade 6 teacher to teach a course for struggling Grade 6 students using the MathForward curriculum.
  • Additional double-blocked mathematics courses taught by regular mathematics teaching staff were also opened in the schedule to accommodate a larger group of struggling students and provide additional learning time. Subsequently, students with lower performance in mathematics were identified for either the MathForward course or the double-blocked mathematics course, depending on a variety of factors, including scheduling issues and student interest in technology. Staff reported that the extended learning time was a critical strategy implemented through the MSTAR Pilot grant that the campus wanted to expand to more students.

Training: 

  • MathForward training for teachers, district mathematics facilitators, and campus administrators
  • Ongoing teacher training during common planning time and through classroom coaching and modeling provided by the external vendor and the internal district coaches

Resources, Cost Components, and Sources of Funding: 
Initial resources to implement the initiative came from funds provided through the MSTAR Pilot grant, as well as local funds to purchase smartboards and integrate the technologies. Local funds were also used to expand programming in 2010–11.

 Cost components included the following:

  • MathForward curriculum package and training
  • Additional classroom technologies to support intervention instruction

Lessons Learned

Strengths/Challenges:

  • Staff reported that a key strength of the program was enhanced student engagement due to the interactive nature of instruction and the excitement about using new technologies.
  • Identifying teachers with a willingness and enthusiasm to provide student-centered instruction and engage in learning how to use new technology in the classroom was essential, staff reported. Mandating that teachers implement the program could be problematic given the heavy use of technology and philosophical shift it might require related to instructional approaches.
  • The consistent and substantive support from district staff helped to facilitate instructional change, especially given the big learning curve teachers experienced during initial implementation. District staff also helped to build collaborative, trusting relationships between participating staff that were non-evaluative.
  • Technology infrastructure and communication between district technology, district curriculum, and campus staff were important considerations. Because the district was wireless, classroom hardwiring was not a cost or logistical consideration but could be in other districts.
  • Because of the initial success and strong and positive district and participating campus support for the initiative, the district leveraged local funds to add the Grade 6 support at HMS for the 2010–11 academic year.
  • Challenges included the need to time teacher training prior to the academic year of implementation to ensure teacher comfort and ability to use the technologies involved.
  • Staff reported that getting teacher buy-in to participate was critical as the potential change required in instruction to implement the program was substantial.

Supporting Evidence

Evidence Type:
Emerging Practice

Overview of Evidence:
The percentage of Grade 7 students identified for the program passing mathematics TAKS prior to participation was 2.4%. In 2009–10, 40.9% of the Grade 7 participants passed mathematics TAKS. For Grade 8 students participating in the program, 6.5% passed mathematics TAKS in 2008–09, and 62.5% passed after participating in the program. Chart 1 shows trend data comparing the percentage of participants passing mathematics TAKS before and after program participation in Grades 7–8. 

Since implementation of new programming for struggling students in the 2009–10 school year, staff reported that the improved mathematics achievement of participating students impacted overall school mathematics performance and earned the campus Recognized status in 2009–10. Overall, the percentage of Grade 7–8 students passing mathematics TAKS increased from 63% passing in 2008–09, compared to the state average of 79%, to 74% passing in 2009–10, compared to the state average of 81%.2 Chart 2 shows the percentage of HMS Grade 7–8 students passing mathematics TAKS from 2008–09 to 2009–10.

Hogg-Chart1: In 2009, 2.44% of the school's Grade 7 students participated in the MathForward program, compared to 40.91% of the school's Grade 7 students in 2010. In 2009, 6.52% of the school's Grade 8 students participated in the MathForward program, compared to 62.50% of the school's Grade 8 students in 2010.
Source: Campus-reported data

Hogg-Chart2: In 2008-09, 63% of the school's Grade 7 and 8 students passed mathematics TAKS, compared to the state average for Grade 7 and 8 students of 79%. In 2009-10, 74% of the school's Grade 7 and 8 students passed mathematics TAKS, compared to the state average for Grade 7 and 8 students of 81%.
Source: AEIS

Research Base: 

Contact Information 

James S. Hogg Middle School
Tyler Independent School District
920 South Broadway Ave.
Tyler, TX 75701 
(903) 262-1500    

 

 

End Notes

1Due to the extensive training, including the use of the technology, required to implement MathForward, the program was not implemented in classrooms until the second six weeks of the fall semester. The first six weeks focused on teacher training.

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

Posted/Revised: 
2011