An elementary school is focusing on improving math achievement with cluster grouping of students with the highest aptitude.
At Samuel Staples Elementary School in Easton, CT, the groups focus on the math ability of children in grades 2-5.
“As a board and as a district, we’ve been trying to improve students’ ability to succeed in math,” said Easton Board of Education Chairman Jeffrey Parker. “We as a district do a wonderful job when it comes to special needs students. For our high functioning kids, there’s a challenge we put before the school administration. We want to do more. What can we do to move our brighter kids along?”
Kim Fox-Santora, the principal of Samuel Staples, gave a presentation on cluster groups to the Easton Board of Education. She asked teachers last spring to identify students who had strong math aptitude in calculating and problem solving.
Students were tested as part of the Math in Focus curriculum, using problems they had never seen. However, the problem solving skills they acquired were necessary to solve the problems.
“That told us a lot about the kids who were solid math thinkers,” Fox-Santora said. “Many children can calculate, but “they’re not using the skills to think. It’s problem-solving that we’re looking at.”