Accelerated Math Puts Math Learning On The Fast Track

5th grade students and teachers joining Superintendent Robby Parker at a Madison City Board of Education Meeting

Every month, our Instruction Team hosts a public instruction committee meeting where we share the many areas of focus in Pre-K through 12th grade academics. In the October meeting, we highlighted 5th grade accelerated math, one of the newest academic programs for Madison City Schools.

The 5th grade accelerated math course began this school year in every Madison City elementary school. It is a result of Superintendent Robby Parker’s goal focused specifically on innovative elementary math initiatives: “Direct innovative math initiatives in our elementary schools that will allow all students to develop fundamental knowledge and learn math at their pace.”

At the October 25 Instruction Meeting, the six 5th grade accelerated math teachers came to share their excitement for this new offering. During the meeting, the teachers talked about the structure of the units and lessons and the growth they have seen in student learning.

In the regular Board of Education meeting that followed, teachers and students shared their enthusiasm for this new accelerated math course. You could hear the excitement in the students’ testimonies, and from their teachers, who complimented the resources and this math initiative. Hearing the students share their excitement for learning math, before a public audience, is the kind of outcome that makes any educator proud. This 5th grade accelerated math course emerged from our continuous reflection of academic offerings and consideration of academic offerings in high-performing districts across the nation. Such reflection is crucial to ensure that we provide academic opportunities that are interesting and challenging.

The fifth grade accelerated math class includes instruction for all required fifth grade mathematical standards as well as standards beyond fifth grade. Some of the resources being used in the 5th grade accelerated math course differ from those used previously for math acceleration.

Three years ago our instruction team began searching for math resources to help implement a conceptual mathematics program. Mentoring Mathematical Minds was quickly identified as a potential resource. We witnessed this program in action during a visit to Fairfax County Schools. This high-performing school system in Virginia started with a small implementation of Mentoring Mathematical Minds and is now transitioning to implementing M2 and M3 in all elementary mathematics classes.

For our 5th grade accelerated math class, the standards are being introduced at an accelerated pace. Mentoring Mathematical Minds allows students to participate in discussions surrounding conceptual mathematical concepts while requiring them to apply their mathematical knowledge with a deeper level of understanding. Classes are led by an Advanced Academic Resource Teacher (AART). Each AART participated in specific trainings on Mentoring Mathematical Minds and how to develop lessons using creative and critical thinking strategies. The AART team collaborates regularly to make this new adventure in mathematics a success for participating fifth graders.

The excitement we have seen from students and teachers supports our desire as a school system to provide M2 and M3 resources for all Kindergarten – 6th grade mathematics classes. Our district instruction team is actively seeking funding for the additional costs of adding these resources for all of our K – 6 math classes.