Ten years in, Shannon Drumma still loves how the Middle School Math Solution transforms her students into confident mathematical thinkers.
When it comes to teaching math, Shannon Drumma knows her stuff.
She’s taught at Mount Morris Central School, a PreK-12 school in rural western New York, for 30 years. She’s spent 14 of those years teaching 6th grade math, and she’s been using the Carnegie Learning Middle School Math Solution for ten years.
Of the four math teachers for grades 6-12 at the school, Mrs. Drumma is currently the only one using our math solution. She wants to change that.
“I am experiencing the best results in terms of state assessments and overall student achievement,” Mrs. Drumma shares, “So my goal is to encourage some of the newer teachers at my school to use the Carnegie Learning Math Solution too because it’s so good.”
Learn what drew Mrs. Drumma to the Middle School Math Solution and what keeps her coming back to it year after year.
A math solution up to the challenge(s)
In the 2012-13 school year, Mrs. Drumma and her colleagues began shopping for a new math curriculum.
“We were trying to realign our curriculum to meet the common core standards,” she explains. “Before we started with Carnegie Learning, our curriculum was spotty.” After doing their research, Mrs. Drumma and her colleagues visited a neighboring district that was using the Carnegie Learning Math Solution.
“We liked the idea of using the same curriculum as a neighboring district,” Mrs. Drumma explains. “Since we’re such a small district, we felt it would be ideal to have someone nearby to learn from and bounce ideas off of.”
While proximity mattered, Mrs. Drumma and her colleagues also liked that the math solution was evidence-based and had rich opportunities for student discussion.
“We loved everything about the Carnegie Learning materials,” Mrs. Drumma explains. “We knew we wanted something backed by research; we knew we wanted something rigorous. Carnegie Learning also allowed students to talk about math with each other and make meaning as they worked. And there was this beautiful technology component, MATHia, which gave our students added benefits.”
It wasn’t long before they were using the math solution in their classrooms.
Impressive test scores
When Mrs. Drumma was originally searching for her next math curriculum, improving test scores was high on her list of priorities, and the Middle School Math Solution has boosted assessment results at the district, state, and classroom levels.
“In 2014,” she states, “the second year of implementation, my students attained 59% competency when that same cohort had 29% competency the year before. So the number of students who achieved competency nearly doubled. That’s a lot of movement in one year. And these are the results we continue to see year after year.”
In the 2021-22 school year, students jumped from 23% competency in 5th grade to 54% competency in 6th grade. And in 2022-23, Mrs. Drumma’s 6th graders, who were still working to catch up after Covid closures, came to her with just a 7% competency rate from 5th grade.
“Let’s just say there were a lot of gaps to fill,” says Mrs. Drumma. “But they are highly motivated, and they’ve worked so hard, and about 40% of them have already completed 6th grade MATHia and are working in the 7th grade program.”
Although Mrs. Drumma does not have the 2022-23 competency scores yet, she’s confident there will be a vast improvement.
Building confident test takers
Even more important than the numbers, Mrs. Drumma says her students are now confident test-takers.
“They used to say things like, ‘Oh, I can’t take tests,’ or ‘I’m so bad at it,’ but then they took a few Carnegie Learning assessments, and they started to gain confidence with those, and by the time the state assessment rolled around they’re like, ‘Is this it?’”
She continues, “They’ll say, ‘Mrs. Drumma, the Carnegie Learning tests are so much harder than what the standardized tests have on them.’ And I love that for them. They feel empowered. They can do the math, and they’re proud of themselves. And that is so exciting for me to see.”
Spiral design for learning that sticks
Another feature of the Middle School Math Solution that Mrs. Drumma finds empowering to students is the spiral design, where previously learned concepts are constantly reintroduced in new contexts, giving students multiple opportunities to access and master content.
“What I love about the Middle School Math Solution is that it presents content in a way that helps students retain information,” explains Mrs. Drumma. “It's scaffolded so beautifully. One lesson builds on the next, and the next, and the next. Even inside one lesson, the activities build on each other so well. So students have opportunities to discover, discuss, and practice what they’re learning again and again.”
While the spiral design helps students understand and retain information, it also fosters discussion and engagement.
“Because Carnegie Learning lessons are so thorough and well-structured,” Mrs. Drumma says, “students can connect things they didn’t know were connected before. So, all of a sudden, they’re talking, correcting each other, and walking out of class saying, ‘Wow, I don’t think I ever learned like this before.’ And they come back the next day excited to do it all over again.”
MATHia makes math better
MATHia, our adaptive, one-on-one learning software, is another component of the Middle School Math Solution that Mrs. Drumma says greatly benefits her students with personalized support.
“My kids love that MATHia has hints that help them get over the humps when they’re stuck,” she says. “I love that the hints are personalized and ‘just-in-time’ to help students with whatever little piece they’re struggling with. This helps students isolate what they’re confused about and lets me be more specific with my feedback.”
Mrs. Drumma has incorporated motivation into her classroom as well to encourage kids to keep at it with MATHia, even when they hit a rough patch.
“I have a space-themed bulletin board with all the kids' names on it, and they move themselves around to track their progress in MATHia,” Mrs. Drumma explains. “When they finish a level, everyone claps for them. It’s a pretty big deal, and it keeps them so motivated.”
Helping students at all levels of learning
Another aspect of MATHia that Mrs. Drumma appreciates is that it is well-suited to students working at various skill levels—in both math and literacy.
“I have some high flyers in mathematics,” says Mrs. Drumma. “Kids who are looking for that extra challenge. MATHia lets them work at their own pace and progress beyond what we do in class. Some of my students have completed two years of MATHia in one year. They’ll have an edge if and when they accelerate in high school.”
Mrs. Drumma also notes that MATHia allows her to pair students with different literacy levels.
“I love that I can pair my more confident readers with my less confident readers when we’re doing a concept builder skill in MATHia. The student with less reading comprehension benefits from working with the student with higher comprehension, and the more advanced student learns the concept really well while explaining it to their partner. Everyone wins.”
Giving teachers what they need
While the Middle School Math Solution has helped Mrs. Drumma’s students find mathematical confidence and success, the program has also supported teachers.
“We wanted to better manage teacher workloads,” she explains. “And Carnegie Learning gave us everything we needed at our fingertips to implement solid classroom instruction that we didn’t have to supplement in any way.”
MATHia has also made work easier for teachers.
“I love that there are so many tools we can use in MATHia and reports we can generate to see how our students are doing. I love LiveLab because it tells me exactly who I need to check in with and how they need support.”
“The whole program, from MATHia’s data reporting to teachers filling a facilitator role, is really built to support educators.”
A bright future with the middle school math solution
So, what does the future hold for Mrs. Drumma and her students?
More great math learning with the Middle School Math Solution!
“I’m looking forward to continuing to use the same high-quality materials that Carnegie Learning provides,” Mrs. Drumma confirms. “I want to keep having high standards for my students, and Carnegie Learning helps me do that. And every year, I want to get better at providing a place where my students can thrive and grow as empowered mathematical thinkers and learners.”
Mrs. Drumma would also like more of her colleagues to consider using Carnegie Learning materials.
“I really do think the Middle School Math Solution is an incredible tool and resource for educators,” Mrs. Drumma says. “And it’s taught my students that they can be successful. It doesn’t have to be ‘Math is hard’ anymore. It can be, ‘Math is hard, but I can do it.’ And that’s what I love. That moment where they start understanding that they are capable. That will impact them not just in math class but throughout their lives.”
Before joining Carnegie Learning’s marketing team in 2021, Emily Anderson spent 16 years teaching middle school, high school, and college English in classrooms throughout Virginia, Pennsylvania, California, and Minnesota. During these years, Emily developed a passion for designing exciting, relatable curricula and developing transformative teaching strategies. She holds master's degrees in English and Women’s Studies and a doctorate in American literature and lives for those classroom moments when students learn something that will forever change them. She loves helping amazing teachers achieve more of these moments in their classrooms.Explore more related to this author
The Middle School Math Solution taught my students that they can be successful. It doesn’t have to be ‘Math is hard’ anymore. It can be, ‘Math is hard, but I can do it.’ And that’s what I love. That moment where they start understanding that they are capable.
Shannon Drumma, 6th Grade Math Teacher, Mount Morris Central School, NY