Middle Grade Math
Goal: By the end of 8th grade, each student is on track to meet benchmarks for success in math.
Middle grade math has become an important milestone for high school persistence, academic achievement, college attainment, and general preparedness for the workforce. Middle grade mathematics provides both a sense of mathematical and intellectual achievement, as there is a strong link between mathematics curriculum and college enrollment. Middle grade math, commonly considered to be Algebra I, is essential for success in high school math. Students completing algebra in eighth grade are more likely to stay in the mathematics pipeline longer and attend college at higher rates compared to students who do not complete algebra in eighth grade. Research indicates that students successfully completing middle grade math perform better in geometry, more advanced algebra, trigonometry and calculus. Basic algebra has been referred to as the “gatekeeper subject” because of its correlation to both college and career success. Taking algebra in middle school opens the gateway to completing advanced mathematics courses in high school which, in turn, is highly valued for admission to many four-year colleges and universities. Students who leave high school without adequate mathematics preparation and skills require post-secondary remediation coursework later on. Approximately 23% of entering college freshmen fail placement tests for college level math courses and are placed in non-credit-bearing remedial courses.
Generation Next Strategies
GopherMath: In 2016-2017, Generation Next partnered with the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis Public Schools and the Campbell Family Foundation to pilot a math project called GopherMath. Because comprehension of rational numbers in elementary years ties closely with middle school proficiency, the project focused on comprehension of fractions, decimals and percentages in the elementary grades. GopherMath is built on the Rational Number Project, a long-term research project conducted by the University of Minnesota.ting their child’s development.
Generation Next Accomplishments
• GopherMath was piloted at Anne Sullivan Communication Center School in Minneapolis during the 2016-2017 school year. The school adopted the Rational Number Project curricula to teach fractions in grades 3-5. In addition, they engaged parents, offered professional development to teachers and provided weekly tutoring to students on the key concepts.
• About 50 caregivers attended parent events at Anne Sullivan to learn about math comprehension tools and the importance of productive mindsets in learning math.
• Saint Paul City School, a Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood partner school, incorporated GopherMath practices and tools for engaging parents in math learning during their regular parent meetings in 2016-2017.
• The learnings from the pilot shaped how Minneapolis Public Schools teaches math. For the 2017-2018 school year, the district reordered the sequence of rational number lessons during the 4th and 5th grade year, in consultation with University of Minnesota researchers. In addition, the researchers edited and created new lessons on the number line concept based on the experience with Sullivan’s 4th grade students.