Math scores still lagging in Carbon District schools
Math scores in Carbon District schools, particularly at the high school level, continue to be a concern for teachers, administrators and parents.
This fall when both the rating systems set up by the state on the schools in Carbon School District came out the districts students who were tested were almost stellar when it came to science and language arts. Math scores on the tests, however, were not so good. This dropped the overall rating of the high school down a grade.
Changes three years ago in the curriculum that is taught throughout the schools foretold to a certain extent that the scores in the higher grades would be lower as the new system grows into its shoes. However, the scores were lower than many thought acceptable even with this in play.
"It still seems to be a surprise to some when it comes to the math curriculum," said School Board President Wayne Woodward in the Nov. 13 board meeting referring to the fact that the issue has been discussed at length over the past few years.
Superintendent Steve Carlsen responded saying that the issue will become less as the system grows into the upper grades.
"I think we are on the other end of that surprise now," he stated.
Woodward and Carlsen both were referring to the input they had received in recent weeks about the lower scores and how some in the district had wondered what is happening.
During some stakeholder meetings in October, which drew together parents and staff from around the district, there were a lot of issues put on the table. High on the list were the changes in alignment of schools, but right there near the top of the list was concern about math instruction and scores.
Those attending the meetings names came from principals across the district. Each submitted five or six names and each of the board members also submitted individuals they thought would be interested in attending. The district invited a total of 70 people and 32 showed up.
"The point was to have them help us brainstorm about what should be done in the district when it comes to education," said Carlsen in a later interview. "We then drew the top seven or eight ideas from the group."
Included in the ideas that came from the group along with alignment and math scores were lack of school pride, what the district is doing for students who are high achievers, homework concerns and having enough options for students during lunch periods. The group also discussed the Helper Junior High situation (what to do about a new building complex), creating a combined property complex (a place where the high school, junior high and a recreational facility could coexist) and air conditioning for Mont Harmon Junior High.
The district also had a stakeholders meeting for teachers. Their top concerns along with realignment were teacher evaluations, problems with lunches that are being served, parental involvement, lack of planning time, class size and the Helper Junior High situation. The alignment in particular concerned teachers in that the changes could impact various instructors situations.
The administration has been meeting with math instructors in the district to work with them to bring the math scores up, but because the new curriculum has to work its way through the system, upper grades do not have the same background as lower grade students.
"We are headed in the right direction," said Woodward. "We need to extend the vertical alignment of the program through the district."
The board heard from all the schools on their School Improvement Plans. All of those plans placed an emphasis on improving math scores throughout the district. The details of those plans were laid out for the board to see.
"The schools have wonderful plans," stated Woodward. "They have the mechanisms in place to have all the plans work."