Tuesday, November 10, 2015

IMPROVE LITERACY! or Fail to Improve Mathematics Scores by Sabrina Morgan of J&J Educational Bootcamp

Double penalty? Are students being penalized for one subject because of a weakness in another? With the performance standards written as they are, all students are required to be literate in language in order to be proficient in mathematics.
As data continues to reveal, readers scoring below the basic achievement level have been shown to perform at a basic level on the mathematics section of the state assessment.  However, struggling readers fail to ever demonstrate proficiency or advanced proficiency due to this weakness.

The 2015, NEAP reports reveal that only 67 percent of fourth-grade students were basic or above in reading while 82 percent of the same population of fourth-grade students were basic or above in math.   For more than 15 years, the difference between basic level reading and math scores has been on average 14 percentage points. Yet, the same report reveals that only 36 percent of readers are proficient, while 40 percent are proficient in mathematics.  When dissecting the reading test scores for individual students, it becomes obvious that more than 95% of the readers at proficient levels are also among the proficient in mathematics. 

Standardized tests require elementary students to think strategically through the use of logic and reasoning to address real-world problems as an assessment for proficiency.  Studies show that most elementary-aged learners have not yet developed the cognitive skills to comprehend certain abstract concepts embedded in the real-world context of a problem.  Generally, students begin to develop true abstract thinking abilities between ages 11 and 14.  Yet again, the underlined literacy skills are a requirement for proficient on the state assessments at ages 9 through 11. 

Many of us remember a time when learning math included a series of problems that we practiced repeatedly, with the word problems as extra credit towards the end of the assignment.  During this time, you were truly assessed on mathematical abilities; you followed a series of memorized steps. As a result, you either got the correct or incorrect answer.  In today’s world, this is now classified as a basic level of achievement.  According to item specifications, students must now be able to convert a word problem into a mathematical equation, solve, analyze, and provide proof to support their logic.  In order to meet the educational goals of such specifications, frustrated and overwhelmed teachers must master-mind methods to accelerate cognitive development in the learners of their classrooms.

J & J Educational Bootcamp has formulated a solution to this problem that involves game play and journaling strategies. The solution is Math Bootcamp Intervention (MBC). It provides products to help students interpret the language of mathematics. MBC combines the foundational development of mathematics (basic concepts, skills, and key words) with MBC Journaling Strategies and practice activities to ensure that our struggling readers are afforded the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of mathematics and score at proficient levels.

The four MBC Journaling Strategies are crafted to help learners use pictorial, numerical, and/or symbolic representations to express numerical operations and work best when coupled with daily journaling practice.

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