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SFUSD eighth-grade students outperforming peers in math

08/11/16

A new report from SRI Education on SFUSD’s Science, Technology, Engineer and Math (STEM) Learning Initiative shows that SFUSD’s eighth-grade students are ahead of peers in other school districts when it comes to math performance.   

Researchers analyzed student responses to a Mathematics Assessment Resource Service (MARS) task, a type of task used in teaching across the US. In this task, students were required to develop a model to describe the question, solve the question and explain their thinking. Read more about the MARS task.

SFUSD had a greater percentage of high-performing students and fewer low-performing students than the comparison group, which comprised of over 8,000 diverse students from 34 urban and suburban school districts. Over 20 percent of SFUSD students received full credit for the task, whereas less than 10 percent of the comparison group did.

Chart depicting results of the MARS task

The Silicon Valley Mathematics Initiative scored the MARS tasks.

"SFUSD's results on the eighth grade MAC/MARS assessment are quite impressive,” says David Foster, Executive Director of the Silicon Valley Math Initiative.  “The comparison group was comprised of several affluent school districts in the Bay Area.”

Foster added, “Congratulations, this helps to verify the decisions and direction SFUSD has taken," referring to major shifts in SFUSD’s math curriculum implemented over the past three years. These changes are aligned with the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and emphasize problem solving, real-world applications and deeper understanding of mathematical concepts over rote memorization.

One eighth-grade teacher stated in the report, “Before my students could only do problems that I explicitly taught them how to do. If they were asked to do something challenging, they would just say that they couldn’t do it. Now my students can tackle any challenging problem because they have the confidence and critical thinking skills to do so.”

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