February 26, 2014 01:15AM
By Molly Callahan
MERIDEN — Students and teachers at Nathan Hale School are seeing results after four years of supplementary math lessons in the third grade; a program they presented to the Board of Education at its meeting Tuesday.
Neil Weathers, supervisor of mathematics for the school system, said the percentage of students at a mastery level of various math portions of practice Connecticut Mastery Tests has risen since beginning the intervention program four years ago.
The extra lessons, part of a Scientific Research-Based Intervention, or SRBI program, take place once a week for 45 minutes. They’re designed to not only give extra attention to students who are struggling to understand various math concepts, but also to provide extra enrichment and challenge to those who already have a grasp of them.
School systems across the state provide SRBI resources for their students, following their introduction in 2008 by the state Department of Education under the umbrella of the No Child Left Behind Act.
At Nathan Hale this year, there are 100 third graders involved in the math interventions, with between five and six math coaches leading instruction. There are 35 students receiving enrichment, 30 students learning how to apply the math concepts they’ve learned, 20 who are getting “re-teaching” of the concept, and 15 in either two or three small groups for more focused teaching of the concept.
Weathers said that the interventions have required additional work by a data team at the school, to track student progress, more frequent communication between the math coaches and classroom teachers, and more planning, analyzing, and reflection.
“All good things,” Weathers said, that will need to be re-calibrated to align with Common Core State Standards and the Smarter Balanced testing in the coming years.
A handful of Nathan Hale students attended the meeting as well, and touted the programs benefits, including learning how to better show their work when figuring out a problem, and being able to work with their friends while learning math.
In other business, members of the Board voted unanimously to approve issues tackled at the last Curriculum Committee meeting, which included the exploration of installing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) labs at the city’s two public high schools while they’re still under construction, and the possibility of high school students earning a half credit of physical education in alternative ways. It’s a half credit that the school system requires above and beyond the one credit that the state mandates.