Schools vow to improve math skills State test scores worry officials

December 09, 1992|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Staff Writer

Middle school principals and school administrators are pledging renewed efforts to boost functional math test scores and improve students' math skills.

The pledge came in response to the recent Maryland School Performance report card, in which seven county middle schools failed to pass the functional math test.

Middle school principals, meeting with the math coordinator and the middle school director yesterday, said they would discuss new strategies with their math departments. They plan to meet again in January.

"The goal we are shooting for on the Maryland School Performance [report card] is for all of our students to succeed," said Kenneth Gill, principal at Oakland Mills Middle, one of seven schools that failed the math test. "Our goal is for a 100 percent success rate."

The other six schools that failed to meet the report card's standard in math -- an 80 percent passing rate -- include Ellicott Mills, Harper's Choice, Oakland Mills, Owen Brown, Patuxent Valley and Wilde Lake middle schools.

Male students fared better than female students, and black students at some schools did worse than their white counterparts. Only 45 percent of black female students at Wilde Lake Middle, for example, passed the test, compared with 86 percent of white female students at the same school.

"It's a critical problem," said Janie Zimmer-Long, math curriculum supervisor. "It's something we're really trying to address. We're taking a more aggressive approach at this time. The report card is a big influence on that."

Some schools may try giving students who did poorly an extra math period a week, while others are discussing sponsoring after-school clubs or other activities to strengthen math skills. The school system also has hired a private consultant to take a look at how it is teaching black students.

"Some of the things we've been doing all along is looking at teacher interaction with students to ensure that female and minority students are getting equal time and that questioning techniques are not different for these students," said Mrs. Zimmer-Long.

But schools can only do so much, she said. "A lot has to do with teacher attitude, student attitude and parent attitude. You hear a lot of parents say, 'It's OK that Mary has a C in math because I got a C in math.' I've never heard a parent say, 'It's OK for Mary not to read because I couldn't read.' "

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