Saturday, March 10, 2012

Teaching Math

My entire curriculum through the year is shaped by the state of Florida's standardized test, known as the FCAT. I do this for two reasons: 1) Because this is what my school district expects from me. 2) I was on the board that wrote the curriculum for the district.

My year's curriculum is organized into units called "modules." There are about nine modules for the course I teach, a course known simply as "Math 2." Each module contains a different cluster of state standards to be mastered. Yesterday, my students completed a module known as Module G - Data Analysis and Probability. This covers the state standards MA.7.S.6.1, MA.7.S.6.2, MA.7.P.7.1, and MA.7.P.7.2.

Each module begins with a baseline test and ends with a post-test. The baseline test serves to identify to what level have my students mastered the module's content before I teach it to them. The post-test serves to identify to what level have my students mastered the module's content after I teach it to them. Both results are recorded and compared. The higher of the two grades is given to them, and they are awarded bonus points according to the gains they made between the baseline and post-test.

Other than bonus points for making gains, the only grade they receive for each module is their test grade. Homework and classwork count for zero points in my class. I assign it, most students do it, and it counts for nothing. The only thing that factors into their grade is what percent of the standards can students demonstrate that they have mastered.

This is how I run my class. Because of it, I have some of the top scores in the district on standardized tests. This is because I teach to the test - specifically, the state standardized test. I do this without apology, because my state's standardized test is a very difficult test. If my students are well trained to solve every tested topic at high levels of complexity, then my students are well trained in math.