Middle school's greatest problem actually isn’t that students perform poorly in math. In fact, US 4th grade students perform statistically equivalent to top ranked Finland. The greatest problem is that the decline from 4th grade to 10th grade on International tests is the largest in the world. The issue is not limited to one region or state. Nearly every US school district shows a decline in student performance during the middle grade years. The issue is compounded with poorly constructed textbook curriculum and instruction being pushed online. The "mile wide and an inch deep” approach has thwarted efforts to increase student proficiency for nearly two decades. It is time for change.
The standard 6.RP.A.3b is considered among the most important lynchpins of academic knowledge in middle school. With support from the National Science Foundation, MidSchoolMath researched the comparative efficacy of the MSM Comprehensive Curriculum (with simulator) on a single standard (6.RP.A.3b) in a randomized controlled study with 435 students and two other primary curricula. Students in the MSM groups showed statistically significant greater gains from pre-test to post-test with longer retention on a delayed second post-test (p<0.05).* More simulators are being designed for critical standards to complement the comprehensive curriculum.
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*The study included 435 students randomly assigned to one of three curriculum that 4 teachers deemed most closely related to teaching 6RP.A.3b. A 5-item pre-test, post-test and delayed post-test was administered to all students and all 4 teachers utilized all 3 curriculum to control for teacher effects. Students in the MSM group were more than 2.3 times as likely to score correctly on the Post-Test Item 2 (6RP.A.3b), and MSM was the only curriculum to show a positive effect size on the composite quiz.
*Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
Efficacy of curriculum isn't the only variable that influences its impact. Teachers report ease of use for curriculum to be one of the most important factors in determining their ability to acquire gains in achievement with students. With MidSchoolMath, it's simple. Launch a high quality 3-Act video series that transports students to another world... on a spice trading ship in the 1600’s or outer space. Students grapple with the problem, come to a solution and then see how math is a useful tool to solve problems. Add the high quality printable, clicker quiz, and the world’s most advanced adaptive test trainer, and your students will have the highest engagement.*
*As rated by the 4 teachers involved in the study, comparing ease of implementation and engagement during implementation. Students in the MSM group reported a statistically higher interest on Cognitive Load and Interest Survey (p<.05)
Prior to MidSchoolMath, most online math items and problems resembled their predecessors: textbook problem sets put online. Now, it's possible to immerse your students into contexts where math is coherent in story. Rated by students as more interesting, teachers also found that the interpretation of the standard was provided with a stronger real-life example.* Whether it is on Mars, during the time of the Black Plague, on a ship in the 1600's Spice Trade, or in the Roman Empire, the 3-Act structure prompts students to define what they need to know to solve the problem.
*Four teachers were involved in a survey designed to rate the degree to which the curriculum provided an interpretation of the standard with a real-life example. Ratings on the graph are the composite average on a 5-point scale.