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Blevins board updated on ACT, math

By Staff, 04/11/17 9:51 AM


BLEVINS – It was update time for the Blevins School Board at its April meeting Monday night.

The board was informed of what’s going on with the ACT prep testing and math courses in the Blevins School District. Five instructors spoke at the meeting, with all of them saying basically the same thing – to improve more teaching time is needed with the students.

Cindy Morman spoke first telling the panel the district had a class in ACT prep last year, but couldn’t this year because of scheduling conflicts. With the prep class, she said, scores went up on the ACT tests. “The more we prep them the better it will be for the school.”

Last summer, she continued, a four-day intensive training session was held. Students got one on one assistance and it helped. Students who score 19 on the ACT as juniors, she said, can take the test again to try and improve during their senior year.

Billy Lee, superintendent, pointed out students can take the ACT as often as they want, and can take the ACT prep test on Virtual Arkansas.

Jennifer Myrick followed, saying she found an ACT workbook two years ago that she’s been using to help students prepare for the test. The book has 50 lessons in it and is correlated to Common Core and ACT. The questions are both multiple choice and open ended, but the workbook allows flexibility and can be used with any high school course.

According to Myrick, 40 percent of the ACT test is pre-Algebra, and information students should have learned in the eighth grade. Part of the problem, though, is students tend to forget what they learned in the eighth grade as they move on and work in more difficult maths. The students, she said, are allowed to use calculators that are wifi capable and can be connected to a white or smart board.

Blevins, she reminded the board, requires students to have four maths in order to graduate. She suggested the district add Quantitative Literacy next year as a fourth math course.

Myrick said the emphasis now is on proofs and transformations, which is why open ended questions are used.

Board President Justice West said students who score high enough on the ACT can get a free college education, and, in some cases, be paid to attend college. This, he said, could save students and their families thousands of dollars.

Debbie Craig reminded the board districts can’t have hard copies of the ACT Aspire test, but the questions can be put on white or smart boards. Part of the testing includes reading comprehension questions for math, and the Aspire program gives feedback on how students are doing.

She said a pacing guide would be nice to have to show what needs to be covered and when it should be covered by so schools could be on target for the actual tests.

Craig said all seventh and eighth grade students are remediated in math, no matter how well they’re doing, and this is a problem. The students who understand the math problems need to be challenged while the others are learning.

Kathleen Wicker said she’s working with sixth graders on geometry and finding the area of triangles and rectangles. Questions are matched with interim testing and include multi-step questions.

Students, she said, start out using pencil and paper to do the work, but eventually are allowed to use calculators. However, she added, calculators aren’t designed to do fractions, so students still have to use pencil and paper to do this.

Pat Loe was the final speaker, saying the Eureka math program is harder but helps students deepen their mathematic vocabulary. She urged the board to visit the classes and see what’s going on, while letting the students know they care.


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