A creative focus on math concepts and student engagement is what teachers are doing about declining math scores in middle schools. In Syracuse, New York, students are showing improvement when teachers use resources provided through a math-science partnership grant through the U.S. Department of Education.

What Teachers are Doing About Declining Math ScoresThe Syracuse City School District is using the grant to work with the non-profit groups Institute for Learning and LearnZillion.

Some teachers find it a challenge to teach difficult math concepts, but Lincoln Middle School eighth grade math teacher Michelle Mariano finds that by tying the real world into her classroom, the concepts make sense and the students are engaged.

She asks her students to really think about how numbers work, and she gives them real examples in their lives.  This year, she helped all her students pass the Algebra Regents.  She had the only class in the district with a 100 percent passing rate.

“They haven’t heard why as much. They know ‘keep, change, flip,’ or the butterfly method, FOIL, the old school tricks, but now we’re really getting into: What does it really mean when we’re dividing fractions, and why does that work? What are we really doing?”

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