Making Math Work in Crane School District

Yuma, AZ | Submitted by Tara Guerrero

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Crane School District in Yuma is no stranger to creating their own curriculum. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it when compared with the other options. Recently, the district embarked on a journey to develop a comprehensive math curriculum that would: help their students achieve, follow the state’s standards, and aid teachers in classroom management and prep.

The K-8 district serves a largely underprivileged student base. Ten of the eleven schools qualify as Title I and many students are English language learners, so improving mathematical literacy is both a necessity and a challenge.

Both teachers and administrators at the school recognized that other math curriculum options didn’t offer the level of customization and alignment with state standards that they needed to help students be successful. Methods often didn’t focus enough on the concepts, but rather relied on procedures. The shortcomings also meant that teachers were put under extra strain to find their own resources, which district leadership often supplemented. Since they were already creating so many of their own tools, it only made sense to develop a district-wide curriculum.

The resulting math curriculum is so effective that Crane School District has made it available to other districts. With clear expectations for both educators and learners, the guidance includes planning aides, support materials, standardized terminology, interim assessments, and more, all aligned to the appropriate proficiency level. This allows teachers to quickly identify best teaching practices, as well as which students have not yet mastered certain skills. And thanks to the district’s 1:1 technology ratio, test scores and other projects can be assessed nearly immediately via a teacher dashboard. Because expectations are clearly set, school leaders are better able to provide teacher training and feedback, enabling educators to improve their craft.

It’s all helping students to understand not just how to do math, but why it makes sense. The most recent round of AzMERIT testing showed that nearly half of their sixth grade cohort is proficient in math, which is well above the state average and up from the district’s score of 33 percent only a few years ago.

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