Middle School Math Change Network: Continuous Improvement

Jul 25, 2022 | Middle School Math, News

Last fall, as a partner of the Change Network, Jen Hendrickson, the K-8 Math Specialist for Marana Unified School District, developed and implemented a new professional development opportunity for 6th grade math teachers. The pilot cohort included teachers from five schools within the district. This innovative professional development strategy was designed to deepen teachers’ understanding of math standards and build confidence in using different instructional practices to successfully transition students from fifth to sixth grade math.
Some of the promising practices identified by this cohort to support middle school math achievement included:
  • Targeted support for teachers during classroom visits and ongoing and targeted professional development from the district math specialist.
  • Having monthly learning sessions focused on the current or upcoming math lessons to be taught so teachers receive just-in-time support for their instruction in the classroom.
  • Supporting shifts in teachers’ focus towards gaining a deeper understanding of grade level standards as well as the standards and math concepts taught before and after their grade level.
This cohort directly impacted 10 educators and 212 students this year. The continued effects of COVID on student attendance and reliability of benchmark assessments, has presented challenges in assessing student growth and outcomes. However, pre- and post-test teacher surveys offer insight into the positive impact of this new strategy:
  • 100% of teachers indicated the 6th grade math cohort was valuable.
  • 100% of teachers reported their confidence in teaching mathematics increased because of their participation in the 6th grade math cohort.
  • 100% of teachers reported their participation had a positive impact on students’ math comprehension.
For educators participating in the cohort, this opportunity led to a new perspective on their work.
“I think the most helpful part about participating in the cohort was being able to sit and put the student cap on,” said Aimee Katz, a 6th grade teacher at MUSD. “It allowed me to see where my students may struggle and I was able to gain a different perspective.”
Hendrickson and MUSD are excited to continue this work in the upcoming school year, and the Middle School Math Change Network will be launching another cohort at a partner district this August. For more information on on the Middle School Math Change Network, contact Amber Schlak at aschlak@unitedwaytucson.org.