Improving Math and Science scores in Middle School
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Conceptualization & Operationalization
of Program Outcomes
Assessment of Program Impact
Math and Science are two subjects which most students at any level approach with trepidation and intense dislike, however, both subjects are integral to cognitive thinking. Not only will these subjects provide skills that will help students think more clearly, but students will be academically successful throughout their school career, enjoy wider career choices and earn more money after graduation. Therefore, establishing a strong foundation in these subjects is integral to future academic and career success.
However, studying these subjects in middle school is even more difficult. Studies have shown that the transition for a student from elementary school to middle school is academically and psychologically difficult. According to Maurice Elias in an article entitled, “Middle School Transition: It’s Harder Than You Think”, many former elementary school students are not well prepared for the demands of middle school. They need explicit instruction, coaching, and support with regard to organizing time and resources for homework; responding to work that is more challenging and requires more effort; understanding and addressing the varying expectations of teachers in different subject areas; and accomplishing such basic tasks as taking notes and taking tests (Elias, 2001). Unfortunately, this same sentiment resonates today with the New York City Public School system, specifically, middle schools located in low income areas.
The New York City Public School System is struggling with mathematics achievement in the grades beyond elementary school. Over 30% of the city’s elementary and middle school students score at the lowest level of the state mathematics test and only 34% of all students pass that test. The mathematics “problem” seems connected to the third major trend in the data, the low performance of middle and junior high schools in the city. In both Mathematics and English Language Arts, the city’s middle and junior high schools seem to be the weakest link in the system (Domanico, 2002). Recently, the math state scores were released further underscoring the middle school “math problem” that exists. Results showed that while 75.3% of students at the elementary level passed successfully only 38.9% of grade eight students passed (Andreatta, 2006, 11).
As such, the intent of this study, based on the aforementioned information, is to evaluate and make recommendations with regard to middle school students in a particular school who have been struggling with both subjects.
This study will focus on a middle school, IS 166- George Gershwin School—located in East New York. The decision to choose IS 166 was dependent on a few factors among which included the fact that the district within which it is located is considered a “virtual educational dead zone” by a Civic Report drafted by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research (Domanico, 2002). Additionally, after reviewing the New York City Department of Education’s website—which provides an overwhelming amount of information on every public school in the city as well as their progress over recent years in the core subjects—it was found that of the schools within the 19th School District—primarily East New York, IS 166 is one of the worst performing schools. The school’s poor academic performance is further exacerbated by the outstanding grades displayed by another school in the 19th School District such as IS 409—East New York Family Academy and outside of the district another school MS 114, located in District 2 (Manhattan), whose grades superseded the city’s level as well as...
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