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Algebra Students are Back on Track

The Athena math department continues to ask the question “What happens when a student is not learning?”  In response to this question, we have created a response to intervention (RtI) system (see diagram below).  This system consists of 3 tiers, with the 3rd tier being the most intensive.  A Tier 3 intervention that we recently implemented was a combination of after school and February break sessions.  This program was titled the “Algebra Opportunity Academy” (AOA).

As a result of this program, 12 out of 12 students earned credit back for at least one quarter.  The average student increased each of their course quarter grades by 7 and a half points!  Also, most students liked it, were engaged, and gave positive feedback about the program (see data below from a survey given on the last day).  These 12 students are now on track to pass Integrated Algebra.

The following sections are a brief outline of the program:

Screening Process

Students that have an average of below 65% should be placed in this Tier 3 intervention support class. 1st and 2nd quarter grades will be examined, along with teacher recommendations.

Assessments/Progress Monitoring

As a goal of this program is to recover credit that was not earned in quarters 1 and 2, students will be assessed on AMSCO chapters 1-8.  They will be assessed through Castle Learning and written tests.  Using Castle Learning, students will have the opportunity to complete extra work at home/off-campus.

Instructional Arrangements

Two math teachers with algebra experience will co-teach this program (Maillet & Shoemaker).  Teachers will be in close contact with the students’ current Integrated Algebra teachers.  Maillet and Shoemaker will select, monitor, and schedule these students in this support class (with assistance from assistant principal).


Teachers will use GCSD approved Integrated Algebra curriculum.  In addition, teachers will prepare additional activities that will engage our targeted students; Students will participate in problem solving groups and the Castle Learning program.

Desired Results

Targeted students will increase their average in Integrated Algebra to at least a 70%.  These students will build confidence and ideally pass the course and Regents exam (not take this course/exam in summer school).


Using Data Walls to Highlight Student Achievement

When one thinks of what a “data wall” might look like, you might think of a fancy, difficult to understand poster that receives limited attention.  However, Ellen Shoemaker has a data wall that receives much attention and praise from students.  Posted in her classroom, she uses her data wall with her students on a regular basis.  Doug Reeves suggests that “One of the most powerful techniques that educators and school leaders can use to improve decision-making in the classroom, school, and District is the Data Wall.”  Mrs. Shoemaker uses this tool to motivate her students and to give them a visual display of the standards that students are meeting and striving to achieve.  She also uses her Data Wall to share information with their fellow colleagues in regular Professional Learning Community (PLC) meetings.

Sample E-mail to Parents

Mrs. Shoemaker and the Athena community understand the importance of involving parents in the education of their child.  It is often said that a student tends to be more successful in school when there is a true collaboration between student, parent, and teacher.  One strategy that Mrs. Shoemaker uses is an e-mail list.  This is a quick and effective way to communicate with parents.  Below is a sample e-mail that she uses to inform parents of a student who has not done his or her part in coming in for extra help:

Good Afternoon,

I wanted to let you know that two weeks ago, your child received a below average grade on a quiz for Discrete Math.  The quiz was returned with a message to “see me to go over this”.  I gave students one week to arrange to come in to work with me on corrections.  My purpose in doing this is to give us an opportunity to explore concepts which were not mastered in this unit.  The same content will appear on our unit test.  Unfortunately, after a full week, your son/daughter did not come in to do quiz corrections.  I wanted to make you aware of this missed opportunity.  Please check Infinite Campus for the most recent updates to their grade.  Thank you for your support.

Ellen Shoemaker

Discrete Math


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