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Districts with experience using standards-based middle school mathematics curricula share their implementation stories.

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Implementation Story

Connected Mathematics Project

Clayton, Missouri

 

Description of the District

The small suburban school district of Clayton is located west of the City of St. Louis. The city of Clayton is the St. Louis County seat and is fortunate to have resources which support its ambitious school programs. The middle school has a total of 615 students enrolled in the three grades 6-8. There are three elementary schoool and a high school in the district. The student population is economically, academically, and ethnically diverse.

 

Background of the Implementation

Prior to the implementation of Connected Mathematics Project (CMP), three different math series were used throughout the three grade levels. As a result the curriculum lacked continuity from grade to grade and from topic to topic. Teachers were looking for materials that would develop conceptual understanding and connect skills and concepts to previous learning. In the fall of 1995, Wydown teachers joined the Missouri Middle School Mathematics (M3) Project. This NSF-funded project was designed to introduce teachers to standards-based middle school curricula. Wydown teachers piloted units from the NSF-funded middle school curriculum projects. As a result of their participation, Wydown teachers recommended the CMP materials for adoption. All of the Wydown math teachers attended sessions of the M3 project and were involved in the decision-making process of choosing a new curriculum.

 

History of Implementation

In 1996 Clayton implemented the CMP program in sixth and seventh grade pre-algebra courses. Two years later CMP became the adopted text for the eighth grade Algebra course. In addition, selected CMP units are used in the 8th grade Challenge Algebra course.

 

Honors Enrollment

Wydown has two course offerings at each grade level. In sixth grade 82%-90% of the students are placed in Pre-Algebra I class and 10%-18% are in the honors section. In seventh grade 72%-80% of the students are in Pre-Algebra II and 20%-28% are enrolled in the honors section. In 8th grade depending on student need, the enrollment in the eighth grade Challenge Algebra varies between 25%-35% with the remaining students in Algebra.

 

Professional Development

Teachers at Wydown have been studying the Connected Mathematics program since the summer of 1995 when two teachers attended workshops at Michigan State University. Since that time all of the mathematics teachers have participated in learning teams, math department retreats, and regular curriculum meetings. These avenues provide continued opportunities for professional dialogue. Teachers have developed a support system for one another to improve the delivery of the new math program through ongoing communication and group decision making. Members of the math department attend the Connected Mathematics User's Conference each year.

In addition to ensuring that the Wydon mathematics department has opportunities to develop professionally, Wydown provides such opportunities for staff members in other districts. Wydown acts as a host to educators that wish to see the CMP curriculum used in a classroom. Wydown staff members are happy to share their experiences in implementing CMP into the classroom. Wydown teachers are frequently asked to provide workshops for other districts that are considering, or are, implementing CMP.

 

Positive Perspectives

Teachers report positive results since students have begun to work with the CMP materials:

  • The curriculum itself promotes continuity from topic to topic and from grade level to grade level.
  • Students are engaged in the solution of meaningful problems of interest to them.
  • Students exhibit better understanding of concepts as well as skills.
  • Students are able to apply and transfer what they have learned.

The following table presents student achievement data for the past two years.

Grade

Test

Year

Clayton Mean Percentile

National(N)/State(S) Mean Percentile

6

CTB McGraw-Hill Multiple Assessment

97-98

86

50 (N)

98-99

87

50 (N)

99-00

84

50 (N)

00-01

82

50 (N)

01-02

84

50 (N)

02-03

84

50 (N)

7

Goals (Mean Percentile)

97-98

76

50 (N)

98-99

86

50 (N)

99-00

92

50 (N)

00-01

84

50 (N)

Balanced Assessments

01-02

Not Nationally normed

02-03

8

Missouri Assessment Program (Mean Percentile Score)

97-98

80

56 (N)

98-99

81

59 (N)

99-00

79

59 (N)

00-01

82

60 (N)

01-02

79

60 (N)

02-03

82

65 (N)

NOTE: Percentages indicate mean percentile rank.

 

Obstacles Encountered

Initially, the standards-based curriculum was unfamiliar to students. Students entering the sixth grade came from three elementary schools, each using a variety of materials to meet the elementary learner outcomes.

In addition, parents found the new curriculum intimidating, in part, because the format of the material was unfamiliar and differed from the textbooks they used as a student. Parent Math Nights wer held to inform parents about the standards based approach and to support parents in working with their child. During these sessions, parents worked problems that their children had solved in class.

Sixth grade parents made up the largest percentage of the participants at Math Night, because the sixth grade represents a transition from the elementary school. After a few years, the Parent Nights became more sparsely attended and were discontinued. By parent request the Math Night was reinstated, this time with the emphasis on ways for parents to help their children with homework.

NOTE: Thank you to all the Wydown teachers, and in particular Jeanette Oesterly, for sharing your story.