Florida Keys News
Sunday, July 7, 2013
District students No. 1 in geometry
Schools chief credits great teachers with extraordinary efforts

We're No. 1!

The Florida Department of Education's comparison of district geometry End of Course exam results shows that district students are No. 1 in the state.

Eighty-four percent of the county's 599 geometry students, in the eighth- through 10th-grade, scored a Level 3 or higher, compared to 63 percent of geometry students statewide. The scoring also reflects a 25 percent increase over 2011-12.

The finding promises to be a major morale booster to anyone concerned with the academic standing of Monroe County students, and was immediately praised by Superintendent of Schools Mark Porter.

"As a former math teacher, I really do appreciate the challenges that accompany student success in this content area," Porter said. "Geometry tends to be a subject that many students often struggle with, yet this type of outstanding success evidences the extraordinary efforts that teachers are making to modify instruction to meet student needs. This kind of an outcome doesn't happen without extraordinary teacher effort. This is something we really need to learn from as well. Embedded in this success are best practices that we need to identify and transport into other content areas."

Christina McPherson, the District Director of Accountability and Assessment, also welcomed the End of Course results.

"We're extremely pleased with the result and the significant gains that were made from the previous school year," McPherson said. "In addition, 100 percent of our eighth-graders district-wide passed the geometry exams, and as a result of these significant gains, we are conducting an analysis of our results, to examine the specific strategies utilized by teachers to create these gains and determine future predictability of student achievement if the same strategies are implemented."

Several initiatives have helped to bring about the impressive results, according to Porter, including geometry boot camps, emphasis on application in the lesson department, real-life problem solving, engaging activities and project-based learning, collaborative group work, vertical teaming, establishing building block and foundational learning, promoting student access to digital content, and district-wide teacher interdisciplinary planning.

Horace O'Bryant School Principal Mike Henriquez, a strong proponent of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education, also hailed the geometry scores.

"Three years ago our Mathematics Department formed a Professional Learning Community, with goals to increase rigor, access and achievement in algebra and geometry," Henriquez said. "Through their efforts our teachers set high expectations, developed challenging and engaging lessons, established a belief system that all students can achieve and motivated our students to achieve at their highest level. As principal I am extremely proud of our teachers and students, and with what we've been able to accomplish over the past few years."

tschmida@keysnews.com

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