would happen if you required your freshman and sophomore
basic math students to correctly complete a set
number of tutorial software problems each day, and
to pass 36 standard quizzes, 60% or better, and
they would fail them if they did not do these required
did this, and surprisingly, as I began to require
more of my students, the pass/fail ratios in my
classes seemed to stay the same! I wanted to know
for sure if the same percentage of students was
succeeding, even though more was required of them.
So, I researched the following questions: Does passing
as evidenced by an A, B, or C, grade, my high school
basic math class that includes “required learnings”,
transfer to passing in the pre-algebra and algebra
level math classes? Does this lead to passing the
CAHSEE (California High School Exit Exam)? I wondered,
would these high expectations and the help in accomplishing
them facilitate these students to be successful
in their next math class, and in passing algebra?
Would successful basic math students have enough
units of math to graduate? Did the required learnings,
and success in accomplishing them, lead students
to successfully graduate?
types of data were collected. I collected student
transcripts to review data about student math grades,
credits, and passing he CAHSEE. I also interviewed
students too find out what they felt helped them
be successful, and what they had learning in Basic
Math. Successful students were randomly chosen to
answer questions about how they did in their math
classes and how what they learned in Basic Math
helped them. All students interviewed mentioned
“redoing” quizzes or homework or doing work until
it’s right as something that helped them either
in their math classes or in their other classes.
The “required learnings” and help in redoing work
to learn them, was part of their success. Some student
also mentioned that the review and/or computer helped
them in their next math classes.
the student transcripts I received, I was able to
determine that 35 of 54 (65%) students who passed
basic math were on track for graduation. Twenty-eight
out of 30 passed Algebra), and all 47 passed pre-algebra.
Only 41% (averaged over the last three years) of
my basic math students passed my class, this is
about the same rate of passing (less than half have
traditionally passed) as before implementing the
required learnings. The English Language Learners
had a slightly better passing rate than the total
class with 51% and the resource students were the
least successful at only 20%. Overall, about 27%
of the basic math students from those three school
years are on track for graduation. Did the required
learnings and passing basic math help them? Yes,
65 % passed their next math class, algebra, math
high school exit exam, and had enough units to graduate!
These conclusions lead me to recommend the following
- All classes should have standards-based required
learnings. Students should be taught and expected
to redo their work for correctness and be allowed
to re-take the assessments for these learnings.
part of professional development, all content
area teachers should be trained to teach and to
promote mastery learning through re-doing incorrect
work and tests, in a positive, supportive manner.
How to manage this approach in a mixed-ability
class should also be included.
programs that allow for students at the basic
math level in the high school to receive the attention
they need, should be developed for students who
are not successful in basic math, in an effort
to reduce their dropout rate.
research should be done to find out why students
who did pass basic math were behind in units (i.e.,
failed classes in other content areas), in order
to determine what can be done to support these
students toward completing their high school graduation
Do students who successfully pass basic math in
high school (which requires passing 36 number-sense
standards from the 4th and 5th grade levels and
a minimum number of computer software tutorial problems)
go on to complete a year of Algebra, pass the Math
California High School Exit Exam and meet the graduation
requirements? This research looks at the low-achieving
basic math student at the high school level and
includes English Language Learners and special education
students. Students have required learnings and redo
their work as part of the standard based curriculum.
Staff development, leadership development, and teaching
for master are recommendations for teachers.
Shelley Klein teaches math at Santa Maria High School
in Santa Maria, California. She holds a Bachelor
of Science Degree in Petroleum Engineering from
USC. She is highly qualified with physical science,
mathematics, and multiple subjects teaching credentials
along with being Nationally Board Certified in Early
Adolescence Mathematics, a teacher researcher through
CEMSE (Center for Equity in Math and Science Education),
a MetLife Fellow, and a trained Integrated Mathematics
Program teacher. This is her 16th year of teaching,
and her third teacher research project.