An Oregon public charter school is achieving record-breaking state assessment scores with Carnegie Learning.
Howard Street Charter School in Salem, Oregon, is a project-based institution that pushes students to achieve excellence in all areas of study. Christina Tracy, the school’s Teaching Principal, shares that they had implemented inquiry-based learning in almost every subject area, from social studies to science. The final missing puzzle piece in their middle school curriculum was a math solution to match.
Then, Carnegie Learning entered the picture.
Finding the Missing Piece
When Principal Tracy saw the inquiry-based and collaborative nature of our core blended math solution, she knew it would be a perfect fit for the school mission and culture: “Carnegie Learning really fit our flexibility. It fit the rigor. We wanted hard content. We chose the accelerated sixth, seventh, and Algebra I.”
Howard Street Charter School is no stranger to academic success and had already achieved curricular excellence with passing rates above the state average. The addition of our math solution simply served as the missing puzzle piece in further boosting the school’s success.
Principal Tracy has noticed changes in the ways students interact with math, and these changes are aligned with the school’s instructional practice. “I saw a lot of hands-on learning,” she recounts. “There was a lot of cutting of paper, you know, for the circle parts for circumference, and things like that, and some really concrete examples of how math was being used. This now is philosophically more in line with what all of the rest of the curriculum is doing.”
Piecing Positive Mindsets Together
Principal Tracy reports that the math solution has worked as a tool to help students unleash their potential as mathematical thinkers in the classroom. “Carnegie Learning’s math solution is about thinking, not about memorizing, and that really matches our philosophy as a school,” she states. This is a sentiment that especially applies to MATHbook, the consumable, write-in text that encourages students to create their own learning.
As mathematical thinking has become more accessible to students, they’ve also formed positive mindsets toward math. “Part of the strength of MATHbook is that it comes across as practice, so it lowers the negative emotion around math. A lot of kids are intimidated by math, but now, the word that I keep coming back to is empowerment.”
This empowerment has been an important part of the math curriculum for Howard Street Charter School. Students are given tools to solve problems in their own way rather than being told how to get the answer, which is something Principal Tracy appreciates. “It’s your learning,” she says. “You control how you learn."
She goes on to explain that the diversity of methods provided by MATHia, the software component of the program, and MATHbook allows students to identify the strategies that work best for them. “We practice with MATHia,” she says. “Some of you love MATHia, some of you don't. Here's the hands-on part in MATHbook. Some of you love this, some of you don't. Here's the computation part, the actual formula. Some of you love this part, some of you, don't.”
Principal Tracy continues, “Hitting across the spectrum allows everybody to take in information, do what they can do with it, and you know, gain that confidence to answer the questions, and I think that's true of all of our classes here.”
Perfect Prep and Practice
Preparing students for Oregon’s state assessment, SBAC, was another important part of the solution for Principal Tracy. That’s where MATHia, the one-on-one, adaptive math coaching software came into play.
She explains, “When we got to the state test, those problems looked very similar because MATHia had been practicing them, too. We didn't go in and say, ‘Let's take the state practice math test to find out how to use the tools.’ We just went in and the kids were fine.”
MATHia works hand-in-hand with MATHbook, reinforcing what students are learning from their instructors. Not only do students get to work at their own pace in MATHia, but its built-in reports also provide actionable data to teachers so they can best set students up for success.
Principal Tracy shares, “The reports made it really easy to see who was mastering, who was delaying, who wasn't even really working on MATHia. The data is easy to access, and it gives you the information that you actually want. That way we could move kids on to the next module if they needed to, or go back and repeat some of them. We had some kids who were struggling with some concepts, so we created a separate mapping, a module for them to be able to do to feel success.”
Setting School Records
All the students’ hard work paid off because they broke school records with their SBAC scores!
Principal Tracy recounts, “I think the data speaks for itself. Our 6th graders, 74% of them passed the state exam. And 52% got exceeding scores. That’s well above the averages for the state of Oregon, which are 28% passing and 12% exceeding. Wow! And that's after just one year of implementing Carnegie Learning.”
The school had already managed to achieve impressive passing rates beyond the state’s average. With support from the Carnegie Learning Math Solution, student achievement soared even higher. “Our highest passing rate ever in the history of the school was fifty-two percent before Covid. And now that's the mid-range,” Principal Tracy states. “Our SBAC data was the best we've had for math in 25 years! And we did not teach to the test. We just used Carnegie Learning Math.”
Combining Accessibility and Achievement
To Principal Tracy’s delight, the increases in math achievement were highly equitable. “We are a lottery school, so we randomly choose students. We have a bunch of students from home school. We have kids who are talented and gifted, and those who have learning needs. So we run the whole gamut,” she shares. “The students who exceeded on the state test were from diverse backgrounds. Carnegie Learning math moved everybody up.”
With special supports for students who had difficulty reading, MATHia worked as a tool to empower learners with a wide range of skill sets. “You don’t have to have an identified need in order to receive support. MATHia offers multiple hints and has read-aloud supports for students who are struggling readers,” Principal Tracy explains.
“I think the reading part is a really big deal,” she continues. “I don't know that too many math curriculums are using reading aloud as a support for all students, and that was the really important part. All the kids, regardless of their background in math or their skills, could use the tools to be successful.”
Seeing the Full Picture
Helping students write their own success stories was a major milestone for the school. “There were a couple of kids who said they had never passed the math SBAC test in the history of their schooling, and that 6th grade was the first time,” Principal Tracy shares. “I told them, ‘Well, here's your success story. Look how well you did!’”
Perhaps more important than the impact the math solutions have had on achievement and assessment is the shift it has created in classroom communication and attitudes. As time went on, more students began to engage in mathematical discourse. “More than anything, while the success was shown in numbers, the real success was in attitude. How you feel about math, how you interact with math,” Ms. Tracy says. “How you don’t come to math class and have your head down on the table. Instead, you're talking with the person next to you, there’s lots of cooperation and discussion using math vocabulary. That created a community of learners.”
For Howard Street Charter School, our math solution was precisely the missing puzzle piece that they’d been searching for to meet their unique curriculum needs. With the right resources, students were empowered beyond Principal Tracy’s expectations.
Now that Howard Street Charter School's curriculum is inquiry-driven across all subject areas, Principal Tracy reflects on that satisfying moment of completing the puzzle with our math solution: “It was something that matched kids’ learning styles of this school where we reinforce that in every other curricular area, and it just worked for us.”
Danielle Donnelly is an Associate Communications Manager with Carnegie Learning. With a well-rounded background in marketing, she has a passion for education, innovation, and lifelong learning. Her work is motivated by her aspiration to empower students and teachers across the globe.Explore more related to this author
Carnegie Learning’s math solution is about thinking, not about memorizing, and that really matches our philosophy as a school
Christina Tracy, Teaching Principal, Howard Street Charter School, Oregon