Gifted classes help achievers

Gifted classes help disadvantaged students with high achievement scores but average IQs, according to a study of urban fourth graders.

Non-disadvantaged students with IQs of 130 or higher did not benefit. Neither did lower-income students and English Learners with IQ scores of 116 or higher.

Students who “miss the IQ thresholds but scored highest among their school/grade cohort in state-wide achievement tests in the previous year . . . show significant gains in reading and math, concentrated among lower-income and black and Hispanic students.” Math gains persisted in fifth grade. Students also showed gains in fifth-grade science.

Gifted classes are “more effective for students selected on past achievement – particularly disadvantaged students who are often excluded from gifted and talented programs,” researchers concluded.

Mixed-ability algebra classes hurt higher-skill students, concludes another study on Chicago’s algebra-for-all policy, adopted in 1997.

Chicago moved poorly prepared students into algebra classes without additional supports for students or teachers, researchers found. “Simply mandating a college-prep curriculum for all students is not sufficient to improve the academic outcomes of all students.”

Who’d have thunk it?

High hopes, long odds

A fine arts major, Vladimir de Jesus hopes to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees and teach studio art and art history. In six semesters at New York City’s La Guardia Community College, he’s earned 27 credits of the 60 he needs to transfer — and he’s flunked remedial math three times.

‘When you struggle, you’re growing’

College students are more likely to succeed in remedial math classes if they’re taught that ability is malleable: The more you use your brain, the better it works.

Does Khan help remedial math students?

Do Khan Academy’s free videos and problem sets help remedial math students at community colleges? A controlled study will look at the effectiveness of blending Khan with traditional teaching.

Remedial ed: Can it improve?

Reformers are trying to keep students out of dead-end remedial courses. Low-skilled students can’t handle college coursework without help, argues a professor.

Carnegie’s Statway is getting students out of the remedial rut: Half of Statway students earn a college math credit in a year, compared to 5.9 percent of similar students in traditional remedial courses.

Algebra or statistics?

Most new students place into remedial math at California community colleges. Eighty percent will never pass a college-level math course. Some colleges have boosted success rates by teaching statistics and quantitative reasoning, rather than algebra, to non-STEM students.

Florida colleges will let students opt for college-level courses, even if they’ve done poorly on a placement exam. Instead of letting students ignore the placement results, let them try the test again, a graduate student suggests.

Double-dose algebra helps some students

When Chicago put below-average ninth graders in “double-dose” algebra classes with twice the instructional time, failure rates were high. But double-dose algebra has significant long-term benefits, conclude Kalena Cortes, Joshua Goodman and Takako Nomi in Education Next. Compared to similar students, Chicago’s double-dose algebra students were more likely to graduate from high school and enroll in college (almost always community college). They earned higher ACT scores in math and verbal skills. There’s some evidence they earned higher grades in advanced math and chemistry classes.

Starting with students entering high school in the fall of 1997, CPS eliminated lower-level and remedial courses so that all first-time freshmen would enroll in algebra in 9th grade, geometry in 10th grade, and algebra II or trigonometry in 11th grade. . . .  many students were unable to master the new curriculum, resulting in very low passing rates in 9th-grade algebra.

Instead of bringing back remedial math, CPS assigned below-average students to a regular algebra class and a second  class that included “writing sentences to show how they solved a math problem; explaining how they solved a problem to the class; writing math problems for other students to figure out; discussing possible solutions with other students; and applying math to situations in life outside of school.”

Perhaps because of all the writing, double dosing was especially effective for students with below-average reading skills and “moderately low” math skills.

Double-dosed students scored nearly 0.20 standard deviations higher on the verbal portion of the ACT, were substantially more likely to pass chemistry classes usually taken in 10th or 11th grade, and earned modestly higher GPAs across all of their non-math classes in the years after 9th grade. In other words, the skills gained in double-dose algebra seem to have helped students in other subjects and in subsequent years.

Nearly half of large urban districts use a double dose of algebra for low-skilled students. However, the Chicago study suggests that extra instruction helps students who are not too far behind, but does little for the truly low achievers. Should they get extra math instruction in middle school? Elementary school? Or a path to a high school diploma that doesn’t require algebra?

A ‘tsunami’ of disabled students

Community colleges are seeing a “tsunami” of students with intellectual and physical disabilities. Some colleges offer special programs for students with developmental disabilities or autism.

Also on Community College Spotlight: Why do so many “proficient” high school students end up in remedial math?

A ‘tsunami’ of disabled students

Community colleges are seeing a “tsunami” of students with intellectual and physical disabilities.  Some colleges offer special programs for students with developmental disabilities or autism.

Also on Community College Spotlight: Why do so many “proficient” high school students end up in remedial math?