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CK-12 Wolfram Algebra

CK-12 and Wolfram partner to enhance Algebra I

This highly interactive text is perfect for the high school classroom, covering all Algebra I topics, including but not limited to equations and functions, real numbers, equations of lines, graphs of equations and functions, solving systems of equations, and polynomials.
The base content comes from CK-12 Algebra I – Second Edition, FlexBook and is enhanced by Wolfram technologies including Wolfram|AlphaMathematica, and Computable Document Format (CDF).

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Flexmath Results

Summary

Responding to low and historically stagnant Algebra STAR scores, Leadership Public Schools (LPS) instituted an intervention program on their Hayward campus during the 2008 – 2009 academic year. The program targeted all 9th-grade students enrolled in Algebra, supporting them with a concurrent enrollment math intervention class. Equipped with 32 computer workstations, this support class featured a discovery-based curriculum which leveraged technology to both facilitate open-ended exploration while also creating precise mastery of essential algebraic mechanics. Though only partially developed at the time, the results of this approach exceeded even the most optimistic growth targets for this population, delivering gains on a scale never before achieved with struggling Algebra learners. Since that initial pilot, with support from the CK-12 Foundation (http://www.ck12.org/flexbook/), the FlexMath instructional program has been developed into a full beta release which was further piloted during the 2010-2011 academic year by LPS Richmond, Envision Public Schools, and even a middle school- Sierra Middle School in Riverside Unified School District. CST results in August of 2011 revealed each pilot produced consistent performance gains for targeted students at a levels that place these schools among the top 100 in the state for 9th-grade Algebra proficiency, and at the absolute top compared to demographically similar schools.

The Assessment

California’s end-of-year Algebra 1 standardized assessment, the “Algebra CST”, assesses students on the Algebra standards of Claifornia which are prescribed to be mastered. The exam is administered by the state to each enrolled student at the end of any Algebra course at a school which receives state funding. The exam divides students into five performance bands: “Advanced”, “Proficient”, “Basic”, “Below Basic”, and “Far Below Basic”. Students are considered to have passed the assessment if their score places them in the “Advanced” or “Proficient” performance bands. Normally, among all California’s 9th grade students, around 20% of students pass the exam. In a typical year, about 2% of 9th-graders will score “Advanced”, with an additional 18% scoring “Proficient”. While the scores of pilot schools have increased over the past year, it is worth noting that the overall passing rate on the Algebra CST has also been in the rise in recent years. Since 2007 the percent of California 9th-grade students passing (scoring “Proficient” or “Advanced”) the Algebra CST has trended upward at a rate of about 1% per year, reaching an all-time high of 23% in 2011.

Target Population

The students targeted for intensive support in each pilot were 9th-graders enrolled concurrently in Algebra. Sierra Middle School presents the solitary exception, where target students were 8th-graders taking Algebra. The goal of this intervention was to produce a solution to the intractable and destructive pattern of summative failure among the vast majority of California 9th-grade Algebra students. Consequently, with the exception of Sierra Middle School, the most informative cross-section of data will compare targeted students to other 9th-graders taking the Algebra 1 CST in California. Further insight might also be possible by examining students of similar background either economically, ethnically, or both. An examination of student results from schools in close proximity to the pilot schools could offer a reasonable demographic control, though such an examination would exclude factors like self-selection bias, teacher efficacy, school culture, etc. Since perfect control cannot be accomplished, the results in this report focus on longitudinal data at the pilot schools as well as a simple “apples-to-apples” comparison examining pilot 9th-graders enrolled in Algebra, contrasted with all California 9th-graders enrolled in Algebra. These students represent California’s most urgent academic crisis, as they linger just one year behind grade level, and at the doorway of educational enfranchisement, but they fail at extraordinary rates, with reverberations across their entire academic futures.

Initial Results- 2009

The initial pilot campus for the FlexMath program was LPS Hayward. The initial pilot year was 2009. The pilot followed a year of intensive staff development, which is a mitigating factor worth mentioning, so that background follows. In 2007 LPS Hayward had never seen even a single student achieve a score of “Advanced” on the Algebra CST. That year 13% of LPS Hayward 9th-graders scored “Proficient”, making their total passing rate 13%. Between the 2007 and 2008 CST results, LPS Hayward embarked on an intensive faculty-based intervention which included retention of excellent teachers and retraining focused both on pedagogy and classroom management. The result in 2008 was that LPS Hayward improved to 23% passing , while the California passing rate remained idle at 18% passing. This was the first year LPS had ever bested the state average, and also the first year LPS had students scoring “Advanced”, in that 3% (two total students) achieved this distinction. The jump from 13% in 2007 to 23% in 2008 represented a significant gain for LPS Hayward, but even at that, so depressed was the overall passing rate that intervention remained a top priority. As before, key staff was retained, but the next year’s intervention would be student-based. With a goal of improving the passing rate to 30%, and a few even expressing outside hopes of possibly approaching the 40% range, the FlexMath program was initiated. That year all students enrolled in Algebra were concurrently enrolled in an intervention class with technology as its centerpiece. In August of 2009 California published the CST results of this intervention. That year 25% of LPS Hayward 9th-grade students scored “Advanced”, with another 31% scoring proficient, for an overall passing rate of 56%. The gain from 13% passing in 2007, to 56% passing in 2009, with a full quarter of the population scoring “Advanced”, remained absolutely without precedent in this data segment, until it was duplicated in 2011 by new pilot schools. In 2009, among 9th-grade Algebra students, 79 other California high schools outperformed LPS Hayward, but none shared similar demographic characteristics, and none made the kind of achievement gains this passing rate represents. Among students scoring “Advanced”, only 20 other high schools in the state outpaced the 25% mark achieved by the students of LPS Hayward. Regarding demographic control, in this same year (2009) a comprehensive high school immediately across the street, drawing from and serving an identical student population, achieved a 3% Algebra passing rate.