The main intent and goal of the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics is to identify the mathematics knowledge and skills students need for success in college and careers so that American students will be fully prepared for the future and best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy. But one of the biggest challenges in meeting that goal is that of closing the achievement gap. The achievement gap refers to the differences in academic performance between groups of students that show up in grades, standardized-test scores, course selection, dropout rates, and college completion rates.
The sharp decline in mathematics achievement in the U.S. begins as students reach late middle school, where algebraic concepts and algebra coursework may begin. But research shows that the completion of Algebra II correlates significantly with success in college and earnings from employment. Students who complete Algebra II are more than twice as likely to graduate from college compared to students with less mathematical preparation (Adelman, 1999; Evan et al., 2006).
While the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) showed improvement in some areas for students in each racial group identified by the assessment, the achievement gap between white and black, and white and Hispanic students failed to narrow from 2011 to 2013. And even though there were modest increases in math and reading achievement on the 2013 NAEP, U.S. students are still well behind their peers in top-performing nations. In order for our students to remain competitive in our globally-competitive world, our public schools must accelerate the rate of progress over the last four years to do more to narrow the achievement gap.
We at LearnBop are committed to closing the achievement gap and preparing students that can succeed in learning mathematics, and believe that the key to closing the gap is to help each individual student move forward. We wanted to provide the best possible learning experience for a student while at the same time providing instructional support for the teacher, so that’s why we’ve partnered with both LearnZillion and Illustrative Mathematics.
LearnBop has made it a priority to include standards-specific language, graphics, processes, and procedures in our grades 5- 9 algebra/algebra readiness program aligned to the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics (CCSSM), which identifies students learning gaps and provides a guided step-by-step process to learning those concepts and skills. In addition, we’ve partnered with LearnZillion http://learnzillion.com/ to link relevant CCSSM-aligned LearnZillion instructional videos within our online tutorials to offer another way of providing clarity and explanations for specific concepts and kills that students may be struggling with. We chose LearnZillion, which was founded by two classroom teachers, because their videos are created by teachers and model classroom best-practices in illustrating mathematics concepts and skills outlined in the CCSSM.
LearnBop has also partnered with Illustrative Mathematics (http://www.illustrativemathematics.org/), a discerning community of educators directed by Dr. Bill McCallum, one of the lead authors for the CCSSM, dedicated to the coherent learning of mathematics. The Illustrative Mathematics examples are vetted problems that serve in illustrating and clarifying the CCSSM, but more importantly give both teachers and teacher leaders an understanding of mathematics and skills in using it. The Illustrative Mathematics example problems are linked as teacher intervention resources within our program, and can be downloaded to use with the whole class or for interventions with small groups of students or individual students.
Research has shown that we learn and process in different ways; through our partnerships with LearnZillion and Illustrative Mathematics we can provide a variety of quality resources and instructional strategies that align to varied learning preferences within our program to aid each individual student in the learning and understanding of mathematics. Teachers can save valuable time by using our program to assess student understanding and quickly see where to use these ready-to-use resources based upon the real time performance data reports provided. Our partnerships ultimately lend themselves not only to closing the achievement gap, but also preparing students for colleges and careers, offering them many benefits to civic life and the economy of our nation.
For more information about LearnBop visit www.learnbop.net.