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Grant raises math scores in East Multnomah County
Grant raises math scores in East Multnomah County

David Douglas and Centennial school districts saw a 34 percent increase in math scores over a three-year period after participation in a project led by faculty members from the Graduate School of Education (GSE) at Portland State.

The East Metro Mathematics Leadership Project (EaMML) began in 2014 with a $1 million grant from the Oregon Department of Education. Nicole Rigelman, PSU faculty member in GSE’s curriculum and instruction department, and Amy McQueen, David Douglas School District (DDSD) math specialist, completed the three-year project to improve mathematics education for two school districts in east Multnomah County.

The grant helped more than 70 K-12 teachers in DDSD and Centennial School Districts (CSD) to more effectively teach math. Both teachers and students were assessed before, during and at the end of the project. Students were scored using the Smarter Balanced Assessments, Oregon’s statewide assessment test . The results were on average 34 points higher for EaMML teachers’ students than those of their peers. Teachers were assessed using the University of Michigan Learning Math tool and the Instructional Quality Assessment tool, which was developed in order to measure the quality and effectiveness of instruction in the classroom . Both measures demonstrated significant increases.

There were 94 participants recruited and 70 active teachers completed the program. Teachers said the program helped them provide mathematics instruction that meets the national Common Core State Standards for mathematics and line their own curriculum up with those standards. Teachers said they were able to evaluate the quality of a mathematical task, assess the cognitive demand and select tasks that were accessible to students. This increased students’ ability to formulate, represent and solve mathematical problems.

“We not only saw statistically significant achievement at the end but also observed progress early on, and it continued throughout the program,” said Rigelman. This was true for every demographic group that was tracked, she said, but slightly less for students in special education.

DDSD Superintendent Ken Richardson was also enthusiastic about the grant’s success. “The East Metro Mathematics Leadership Project has provided a model for teacher professional learning with a proven impact on student achievement and growth across all student demographics,” he said. “This supports the David Douglas School District’s focus on equity.”

“As the EaMML grant comes to an end, it is so exciting to see from our collected data the positive impact of this grant. I know students taking math from EaMML teachers will continue to benefit for years to come,” said Jackie Cooke, who taught in the program and served on the leadership team.

The EaMML leadership team includes Amy McQueen and Steve Vancil from DDSD; Karen Prigodich from CSD; Roxanne Malter and Jackie Cooke (an Oregon Teacher of the Year) from the Multnomah Education Service District; and Nicole Rigelman and Paul Latiolais from PSU.

By Nancy Eichsteadt, Graduate School of Education