Instructional Innovations

MCHS Weekly Newsletter: Week of October 5

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Mathematically Sound!!

In my world, when our math teachers were feeling down and felt the need to recharge, I would take them to a tropical island where they could bathe in the sun's rays while sipping on coconut juice garnished with a pineapple umbrella. I would let them stay as long as they want (I'd cross my fingers for no Lord of the Flies behavior).


In the real world, they can't go on this beach vacation because they are too busy teaching kids numeracy--and I can't afford it because I'm not Bill Gates. Math teachers have been banged up in the press, in our schools, and in our classrooms. I think it's time to stop and take a look at the world of math and what all of these "numbers" truly mean.


So many of us, teachers and community members included, look at the EOC pass rate for subjects to determine how well our kids did that year. It's okay to take a preliminary glance at what's going on, but we should not stop there. For example, if a subject test has a pass rate of 93%, we think that's pretty good. If it has a pass rate of 37%, we stop the presses and demand answers for this poor performance. What we often fail to look at is the state target data and how our scores compare.


Enter the CCRPI (College Career Ready Performance Index) and SGPs (Student Growth Percentiles)--how educators love acronyms. While we are still waiting for our EOC scores from the 2014-15 school year, we can do a little digging in the 2013-14 data. When we dig, what we find is that, yes, our Coordinate Algebra scores reported an average of 37% (state target was 45.1%) and our Analytical Geometry scores reported an average of 35.3% (state target was 40.3%); however, this data is nowhere near a reflection of student achievement in math. Also, please note the state target and how low it is in comparison to the state target percentiles in all other subject EOCs.


CCRPI will continually focus on student growth; this is what is paramount--where did a student begin and how much did they improve. When we start to drill down to median student growth percentiles for each subject, we find Coordinate Algebra at 54% and Analytic Geometry at 47%. These two math classes make up the top four classes in regards to highest SGPs. Yep, math is rocking it!


What the rest of us also need to know is that math has been the guinea pig of testing in the state of Georgia. They have moved their testing to compare much more to current NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) scores, which means our math scores are more aligned with how students across the country are scoring. Our math teachers deserve that coconut juice and more. As our EOC testing comes more in line with NAEP testing across all subject areas, we will all learn a difficult lesson about the definition of proficiency--one that the math teachers have already learned.


Also, remember that the CCRPI has changed its rubric to focus less on achievement and more on growth: achievement is 50%, while growth is 40% (old rubric had achievment at 60% and growth at 25%). Factor in the other 10% as narrowing the achievement gap, which combines the two and you can see that the state is moving toward growth as the major measure. This is good news as we have a little more control over a student's growth than we do in his/her achievement. For example, a student might begin the year not meeting the standards and may end the year still not meeting the standards; however, this child might gain substantial growth. This growth is more heavily rewarded by the new CCRPI rubric.


Take Aways:


1) Math teachers deserve kudos for their hard work and perseverance--it is paying off!


2) Don't trust the "overall average score" in determining how well your students are performing. Look at how much growth your students are obtaining in their time with you.


3) Good teaching begets strong growth on tests. Worry about your instruction and your locus of control: your classroom. Don't put too much emphasis on the test. Instead, put your efforts in creating instruction that is standards-based and student centered.

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Caught in the Act...AP Teachers

Madison County High School is making great gains with its Advanced Placement (AP) program. In the last three years, MCHS has outperformed students across the state of Georgia on AP tests, and we have also been very competitive with test takers in the global perspective. The average pass rate for MCHS students has increased from 20% of test takers passing tests in 2009 to 61% of test takers passing in 2015.


More AP Highlights from the 2014-2015 School Year


  • Teachers who beat the global average in their courses: Jacob Cawthon, AP Studio Art 2D; Dallas Cowne and Trent Wilkes, AP English Language and Composition; David Harrison, AP Government and Politics; and Dr. Elmer Clark, AP World History.
  • Jacob Cawthon had seven students submit a portfolio for AP Studio Art: 2-D. Cawthon helped ensure each of these seven students passed to receive college credit to report a 100% pass rate for this course—a feat for any AP teacher.
  • David Harrison taught AP US Government and Politics for the first time in his career during the 2014-2015 school year. Harrison had a 71% pass percentage with 22 students receiving college credit for Government as freshmen in high school. It’s worth repeating: 22 students received college credit when they were freshmen in high school.
  • Matt Boggs had 11 of his 13 students pass Microeconomics to earn college credit.
  • AP English Language and Composition, taught by Dallas Cowne and Trent Wilkes, reported a pass rate of 82%. Wilkes had 100% of his students pass. Cowne had more students take the test than the number of students in his class because he pulled promising students from his 11th Honors class once a week to prepare for the AP test outside of traditional class time.
  • Amber Adams, Eson Atkinson, Kat Bone, Eli Dixon, Emily Halpin, Chandler Kyle, Daniel Parker, Viral Patel, Jessica Samuel, Courtney Ton-Nu, Brittany Tran, and Andrew Tyson all earned the distinction of being named AP Scholars, which means that each of these students received an average score of 3 or higher on 3 or more AP exams.
  • Melody Montgomery, Jessica Samuel, and Charlie Vu earned the distinction of being named AP Scholars with Honors, which means that each of these students received an average score of 3.25 or higher on 3 or more AP exams.
  • Samantha Kincaid earned the AP Scholar with Distinction award, which means she received an average score of at least 3.5 on all the AP exams she took along with receiving a 3 or higher on FIVE or more of her exams.


All of these gains have subsequently occurred while MCHS has increased its number of AP tests taken by students. In 2009, only 10 AP tests were taken. Fast forward to 2015 and we have seen these numbers increase tenfold to 100 tests taken. Increasing test scores while increasing the number of assessments taken is a source of pride for MCHS: our students, our teachers, and our community. Not only are we achieving at higher rates in AP classes, we are also saving students a large amount of money. The cost of one college course in many of Georgia’s public universities is estimated to be around $1275 for tuition alone. Factor in that our students passed 100 tests—the students of MCHS saved themselves $127,500 dollars in college tuition by taking and passing AP exams in the 2014-2015 school year.

For Your Amusement: Abbott and Costello

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Upcoming Professional Development

Tuesday, October 6: College Board Redesigned--Looking at the new SAT and PSAT @ Madison BOE


Wednesday, October 7: ESOL Training with Mrs. Donnelly @ MCHS; Everone is required to attend this session or the October 29th session.


Monday, October 12: Teacher Work Day

Melissa Conway, ISL

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this week's newsletter. Also, let me know if you have an idea for the teacher spotlight. There are so many great things happening that it can be hard for me to keep up!