Representative Michelle Udall, R-25, recently introduced HB 2477, a legislative bill aimed at improving middle school and high school math performance. Udall, a math educator and former member of the Mesa Public Schools board, is uniquely passionate about ensuring that all students in Arizona graduate prepared for the 21st century.
She shared with Expect More Arizona why she introduced HB 2477 and how it will impact Arizona students.
Q: What is HB 2477 and what will it do?
A: HB 2477 will require that schools notify parents if their 6th, 7th or 8th graders are not proficient in math. While some schools are already sending notifications, many come at the end of the year and aren’t actionable over the summer. The bill will ensure that parents are informed within the first quarter of the academic year – or early in the second quarter – so that parents and teachers can work together toward a solution. We are also working with stakeholders to ensure the bill doesn’t create an undue burden on schools.
Q: Why are parent notifications so important?
A: We can’t fix a problem that we don’t know exists. As a parent, it’s not always clear whether your child is on track to succeed, and regular grades aren’t always reflective of proficiency. We want to be sure that all parents are engaged and involved with the solution.
Q: Why the focus on middle school math?
A: I would say that all levels of math are important. But 8th grade math is particularly critical, in that it’s a strong indicator of how students will fare in high school math. Too many of Arizona’s freshman are failing Algebra 1, but because students need a full four years of math to graduate, this can put them on a path to not completing high school. Middle school math is the preparation for high school. It’s part of the Arizona Education Progress Meter effort to boost 8th grade math performance and put students on the path to postsecondary education.
Q: What else are you doing to improve math learning?
A: I recently convened a meeting of statewide stakeholders to discuss challenges of high school math readiness. We brainstormed ways that the problem could be addressed and how some districts and charters are already doing great work with math performance. We came together to share common success factors, such as teamwork, planning and goal-setting. From there, we’re planning to create working groups focused on developing solutions and share them more broadly to move from pockets of success to widespread growth. We hope to help break down silos and create pilot programs that can be shared throughout Arizona.