master critical math concepts by 9th grade



master critical math concepts by 9th grade

Why is Mastering Critical Math skills by 9th grade a milestone?

Competency in mathematics is critical to functioning in everyday life and having access to college and employment. (Child Trends, 2012, Math Proficiency). Successfully completing Algebra is a high school graduation requirement for all California students. Algebra is foundational for college preparatory math and science courses in high school. However, assessing students’ progress towards gaining math skills across Marin County is complex. Reasons for this complexity include the differences in timing in student enrollment in general mathematics and algebra I, and disagreement among educators regarding the optimal timing of these courses.

When the system doesn't work:

  • Students have not mastered the critical math skills necessary for math and science going forward. This means that they may not place into advanced courses or, if they do, they may not be able to succeed in them. Because of this they are at a disadvantage for achieving the requirements needed for college.

When the system works:

  • Students enter 9th grade with the critical math skills needed for future learning in science and math - including in core courses they will need for enrolling in college.

Marin City Math Challenge Action Team

Marin City Math Challenge Action Team

Marin City Summer PRogram math component intervention

The Marin City Math Challenge Action Team was launched this year with the initial project of adding a math component to the 2017 summer program for Marin City students!

Team goals include improving MAP scores for all 7th and 8th grade Marin City students. The goal is for the students to be ready for Algebra (or Algebra Fundamentals) at Tamalpais High School. This entails a definite need for summer support and interventions with a focus on math, as well as recognizing the importance of skills and enrichment activities that benefit these students during the summer.

The Team also worked on improving Individual Success Plans for Marin City Students. These plans would help students and parents engage fully with math progress. The Plans are an all encompassing dynamic document that would provide information and goal setting for individual students. The team found that awareness and parent engagement is key in helping students meet math milestones and for them to be ready for algebra in High School!


Math Challenge Team Summer Math Program Components: 

Middle School (rising 7th and 8th graders)

-6 week program is best practice 

-Use former MLK alums (just graduated from HS or currently in college) to help staff summer program.

-Pre-teaching for next year (Math & Literacy).

-Finding ways to fill skills holes.

-Enrichment/fun activities

-Friday field trips at the beach, etc.

-Leadership Skills Building, experiential activities

-Public Speaking

-Provide opportunities to give back to their community 

-Practical application of math skills…programming, building something, projects)

-Opportunity to interact with Mill Valley students

-Tam students serving as teachers

-Field Trips

-Opportunity to interact with Mill Valley students

High School Students

-Goal is to increase Math skills and to be better prepared for the High School experience

-6 week program is “best practice”

-Offer Algebra Foundations Curriculum

-Program to address Social/Emotional aspect of entering High School. 

-Incoming Tam High Students should shadow Juniors/Seniors Tam students for exposure and social/emotional assurance.

Marin City Math Challenge Action Team Members:

•    Fred Silverman - MCSV

•    Emily Mullen - BTG

•    William Woods - BTG

•    Laura Cox - BTG

•    Beth Minor - BMLK

•    William Woods - BTG

•    Jennifer Lawrence - WCA

•    Jaya Godwin - BTG

•    Alex Stern - 10,000 Degrees

•    Rondell Gibson - 10,000 Degrees

•    Jan McDougal - Community

•    David Wetzel - TAM High School




The way we teach math and how we measure that success is changing

Since 2010, a number of states across the nation, including California, have adopted Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in mathematics. The Common Core standards are not curriculum - curriculum is what teachers actually follow, or do, in the classroom, and what students do at home -  Standards simply articulate what we want students to learn. 

The slogan of Common Core Math is "fewer, higher, deeper" — a smaller number of more rigorous standards with a focus on both understanding and application. In math, the standards are designed to be coherent and connected in a consistent sequence, with concepts that build on each other from grade to grade. 

The data below is for the California Assessment of Student Progress and Performance after completion of 8th grade. Though Common Core Algebra 1 is now a course which is taken after the Common Core Math 8, the test does include algebra content. According to William G. McCallum, a mathematics education professor at the University of Arizona, in Tucson, and one of the lead writers of the common standards "there's big confusion between the Algebra 1 course with a capital A and algebra, the mathematical subject. If you follow common core, there's now tons of algebra content in the 8th grade."

The Data Story

The Data Story

This number reflects the work to be done as a community. But it doesn't tell the whole story.

Before we can tackle the problem, we must first learn about the factors driving it.

To do this we unpack the data in order to understand how best to respond to it.

when the system is working

The data tells us that the educational eco-system does indeed work for some students:

Approximately 90% of White & Asian students and almost 70% of Non-Economically Disadvantaged* students have the math skills needed for advanced math & science courses


when the system isn't working

But at the same time there are communities for whom the system is not fulfilling Marin's promise:

Less than 50% of Black/African American students and fewer than 60% of Hispanic/Latino students have the necessary math skills while just 20% of Economically Disadvantaged* students and only 5% of English Language Learners had the math skills needed by 9th grade.

We must do better For all our children - THe data teaches us how

*Non-Economically Disadvantaged - students not qualifying for free or reduced lunch

Economically Disadvantaged - students qualifying for free or reduced lunch