Improving Proficiency In Test Scores

This is the first year of compiling math scores statewide.

Nearly half of Nebraska's 11th graders did not receive a passing grade.

In the Omaha Public School District that number jumped to three out of four students.

But teachers like Joyce Elder at Marrs Middle School are trying to change that.

"You try to give them pictures and illustrations and examples that are close to their life because other wise its just a bunch of numbers in a book," she said. "You've got to bring it down to their level, you've got to make it exciting. You've got to talk to then in terms that they understand."

Middle School is a critical time to instill the value of math.

The majority of students at Marrs come from a lower socio-economic background and many are the kids of immigrants.

That makes the task of turning out higher scores more difficult.

But there has been some success.

At Marrs, math test scores were the second highest in the district thanks to 90 minutes of math class daily, instruction involving multiple teachers simultaneously and by specifically targeting individual student needs.

"It might be working in a small group with a teacher it may be working with manipulative, it may be working with some programs behind the computer or discussing a problem within a group setting," Marrs principal Pam Cohn said.

And the students are discovering the importance of math.

"I actually see math everywhere in my future," 8th Grader Rosario LaMere said. "If you actually pay attention, its in your surroundings you see math a lot."

"Especially in business, like accounting, adding and subtracting numbers when you get older and get a house and a car bills all kinds of things just in your life," 8th Grader Charita Dailey said.>

"It depends on the kind of job you are going to have construction, architecture, even in art," 8th Grader Gustavo Rodriguez said.

Math teacher Joyce Elder said scores can improve at the 11th grade level with time and encouragement.

"If they leave 6th, 7th, 8th grade saying I can do math, that's the first thing," she said.

And hopefully carrying a greater appreciation for math proficiency into high school and beyond.

Another impact on test scores comes from parents.

Most wouldn't hesitate to get help for a child having trouble reading, but sometimes excuse a child who has problems with math.

Parents are recommended to encourage their children when it comes to math by highlighting how they use math in their daily lives.
Experts say it is detrimental for a parent to tell their child they struggled with math as well.

The scores for reading proficiency were similar to math scores. This is the second year reading testing has taken place sate wide.

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