By Dedra Cordle
The pictures presented at the Nov. 18 board of education meeting showed students standing at the board in front of a classroom, highlighting a completed math problem. The look on their faces was one of pride and accomplishment – some were even flexing their muscles. These were not, assured officials, photos taken from stock files but in actual classrooms across the South-Western City Schools District.
Three years ago, the district began the implementation of a program called Ready Mathematics. The instruction, designed by education tech company Curriculum Associates, taught teachers how to understand and plan for a future diagnostic portion that would help students better understand the subject. It was piloted at a handful of elementary, intermediate and middle schools in 2018.
Pattie Molonsky, a math coach at Stiles Elementary, said the students took to the computer-based program immediately.
“I think it brought a new level of joy to them because the entire program was designed to reach them at their level,” she said. “They loved knowing the progress they were making with the subject as the year went on.”
I-Ready, as the diagnostic portion is called, automatically adjusts the difficultly of questions according to the ability level of each students. It collects data on their strength and weaknesses and provides real-time data to their teachers.
April Weese, the district’s curriculum coordinator, said that data is vital because it aids the teacher in finding ways to help the students better understand the subject.
“It can really pinpoint the areas of difficulties so teachers can adjust their lessons accordingly,” she said. “For example, say there are a handful of students who are having trouble understanding a concept; the teacher can bring them into a group and provide further instruction to help them better understand the concept.”
Weese said that small group setting can really bring about student engagement with the subject.
The Ready Mathematics and I-Ready program began implementation district-wide this year.
“I think this will be beneficial to the district because it provides continuity across the classroom,” said Weese. “Teachers will be able to see where their students are (with the diagnostic data) and it will provide a valuable resource in helping our teachers meet the needs of our kids.”
In related news, the board of education will hold one regular public meeting in December due to the holiday break. The meeting, which will be held on Dec. 9, is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. but the public is invited to arrive at 6:30 p.m. for a reception for board member Mindy Garverick. Garverick, who has been with the board since 2008, did not seek re-election on Nov. 5 and will finish her term at the end of the year. She served as president of the board four times.