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New math model expands to more Glendale schools

Teaching program has shown marked gains in schools where it debuted.

July 19, 2013|By Kelly Corrigan, kelly.corrigan@latimes.com

A model for teaching math that Glendale Unified began to pilot two years ago will expand to four more schools this year after students showed significant gains on standardized exams.

Pioneered by an immigrant teacher who once struggled with math as a student, the curriculum of so-called Swun math has been adopted by other districts, including Garden Grove and Long Beach, which have also seen their student test scores rise.

District officials will now be rolling the program out at Balboa, Marshall, Muir and Glenoaks elementary schools this year, but there are plans to expand it to include every elementary school.

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Columbus and Horace Mann elementary schools finished their second year teaching the math program this past spring.

When Columbus Elementary began the program in 2011, 71% of students tested proficient or better on state standardized exams. The following year, that number rose to 82.2%.

Before Cerritos Elementary began teaching Swun math in 2011, 58.3% of students tested proficient or better. In 2012, that rate climbed to 66.7%.

At Horace Mann, 8% more students tested as proficient or advanced in math in 2012 than they did in 2011.

The program has also generated interest among students, educators say.

"It produces a great deal of excitement on behalf of the students learning math," said Lynn Marso, assistant superintendent of educational services.

It will cost Glendale Unified $225,000 to implement the program at the four schools this year and maintain it at three others. Under the program, math coaches who work on behalf of Swun will visit the schools on a monthly basis to observe teachers in action and mentor them.

One difference between Swun math and the "Everyday Math" program the district is shifting away from is the professional development teachers receive, which will encompass more than 20 days in the upcoming school year.

The lesson plans are also very regimented, Marso said, and when students work, they do so in groups of two to four as they solve problems.

When the district surveyed the teachers at the three elementary schools teaching Swun, 97% of teachers said they wanted to continue the program, Marso said, and 92% suggested expanding the program to more schools.

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Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.

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