New testing for math at LJH

PLYMOUTH — Lincoln Junior High students enrolled in Algebra I classes will be given an opportunity to show how much they’ve learned when they take the Indiana State Acuity test for Algebra I. The testing window allowed by the state started Monday and goes thorough Aril 13.
According to LJH Assistant Principal, Reid Gault, 111 students will be taking the Predictive Acuity Test that is designed to predict readiness/success on the ECA (End of Course Assessment) for Algebra I.
Algebra has been taught at the junior high level in the Plymouth schools for at least the last five years, according to Gault. He said, “Four years ago, we started to offer Algebra to seventh graders and geometry to eighth graders.”
Students can receive credits for the course work depending on the outcome of the ECA and their performance in the class.
“Our teachers gain valuable information from the assessment.” Gault said. Teachers can determine where individual students might be deficient in a skill or standard and be able to re-teach or provide additional time and support to the student. Sometimes at the Algebra level, if a student has not been predicted to pass on each of the predictive assessments, we take more than one (test), then the student might choose not to take the class for credit and take it again the following year with no penalty for trying.”
Gault added, “Some students have chosen to not take it for credit because their performance was not what they wanted it be. They then took it over with no penalty-a win-win situation. Students can be challenged at their level and learn from possible failure at the same time. We had 100 percent of our students taking Algebra last year pass their ECA.”
Gault believes students are capable of learning at more advanced levels than previously thought; but, at the same time, need to work at their own pace. “ I believe we need to get to a place in education where students can be challenged at their level regardless of their age and the next sequential math class,” he said. “I would like to see math be called math and students are receiving the instruction that matches their needs.”
He explained the differences in the ways students learn, saying, “Some students can master the standards and concepts of both Algebra 1 and 2 in a semester’s time or in one year’s time rather than in two separate years. We need to allow for individualized instruction at the pace and readiness level of the student.”
“Our Flip Instruction philosophy is designed to provide teachers with the time to individualize instruction,” continued Gault. “Now I would like to see students challenged at their pace when they have mastered standards. We must engage students individually in math. The days of herding them all along at the same rate do not meet the needs of some of our best and brightest students or some of our disengaged students because they are bored.”
Students will still have to take the ISTEP + (Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Purposes) in the spring.