0 Geometry Success in Muleshoe ISD

Texas Teachers Embrace a New Way of Teaching and Learning Geometry

Muleshoe Independent School District has seen improvements in assessment scores and student agency with the Texas Math Solution

Challenges: 

  • Focus on procedural fluency didn’t result in long-term retention and transfer
  • Geometry students showed minimal growth (10%) between beginning and end-of-year assessment scores
  • Teacher-centered classrooms meant students lacked agency and ownership of learning

Solutions:

Populations Served: Grades 9-12

Results:

  • Increase in conceptual understanding, resulting in greater retention and transfer
  • Significant increase in growth between beginning and end-of-year Geometry assessment scores
    • Average of 48% improvement during the 2021-22 school year
  • Classrooms became student-centered, leading to increases in engagement, student agency, and student ownership of learning
 

Muleshoe Independent School District, located in rural Bailey County, Texas, hosts a wide variety of student ethnicities, socioeconomic statuses, and learning needs. Since adopting the Carnegie Learning Texas Math Solution during the 2021-22 school year, Muleshoe ISD has seen a significant positive impact on student performance.

The best part? That positive impact hasn’t just been in STAAR-tested subjects like Algebra 1. Keep reading to see how Muleshoe ISD Geometry teachers and students have improved assessment scores, gained conceptual knowledge, and increased student agency.

Challenges to geometry education at Muleshoe ISD

Muleshoe ISD was at a crossroads when searching for a math solution to address the needs of its students. Should they stick with a traditional fluency-based curriculum or try something new?

Math teacher of eight years Xavier Mora* knew the answer: “We were focusing on procedural fluency and it just wasn’t working out.”

“The biggest challenge for students was always retention and transfer,” he continues. “We would teach a concept, practice it, and then when one small part of the problem would change, the students didn’t know the way forward. Drill it and kill it just wasn’t working.”

The pitfalls of sticking strictly to procedural fluency were also reflected in Mora’s pre- and post-assessment scores. “On a good year, I’d expect 10% growth between beginning and end-of-year assessments,” he says.

Muleshoe ISD educators also recognized the lack of student agency and ownership of learning that resulted from more traditional instructional methods and math curriculums. 

So what has Muleshoe ISD done to address these struggles with math instruction? They took a leap at the beginning of the 2021-22 school year with the TEA-approved Texas Math Solution. 

At the time, Mora was the only Geometry teacher at Muleshoe ISD—and four years later, after going all in with the Texas Math Solution, he has more Geometry teachers on his team and a wealth of student success to show for it.

Implementing a new Geometry curriculum

The Texas Math Solution is comprised of Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS)-aligned materials in a write-in consumable text and MATHia, an adaptive one-to-one math coaching software. As with anything new, implementing a non-traditional curriculum such as the Texas Math Solution can come with its challenges.

“I’m sure it’s common that the initial start with the Texas Math Solution feels like lurch—for both teachers and students,” Mora acknowledges. “We’re demanding a different level of work from the students and a different way of teaching from the teachers, and there’s a gap to address.”

Third-year Geometry teacher Vanessa Ramirez agrees. “Carnegie Learning really pushes teachers to do the math, and my first year, I saw why. There were concepts even I wasn’t an expert on and it was challenging to learn how to become a facilitator of student learning. It’s a whole new way to look at geometry and teaching.”

But Mora and Ramirez quickly realized the benefits and flexibility of the Texas Math Solution. 

“Carnegie Learning gives you everything,” Mora enthuses. “Online resources, a comprehensive Teacher Implementation Guide, flexible pacing calendars—you name it and it’s there. But you’re still the teacher in the room and the Texas Math Solution gives you the freedom to make it your own.”

And with world-class professional learning support available online and in person, Mora and Ramirez were never far from Carnegie Learning staff when it came time to implement Muleshoe ISD's new math solution.

Geometry scores increase with the Texas Math Solution

The hard work Mora and his students have put into using the Texas Math Solution, which emphasizes a combination of conceptual understanding, procedural fluency, and developing student agency, is directly reflected in course-level pre- and post-assessment scores. 

To assess student growth, Mora administers beginning and end-of-year assessments comprised of questions from the Texas Math Solution. During the 2021-22 school year—Mora’s first year using the Texas Math Solution—he was shocked at the improvement.

Previously, Mora could expect about 10% average growth between pre- and post-assessment scores. After just one year of using the Texas Math Solution, his students showed an average of 48% improvement.

“That was all I needed,” he states. “Those scores were more than enough for me to go all in.”

Graph shows a comparison of pre-test and post-test average scores for 7 geometry classes. The post-test scores are higher than the pre-test scores for every class. The average score improvement across all classes is 48%.

Geometry skills blossom with conceptual foundations and productive struggle

Mora attributes much of his students’ success to the conceptual foundations they develop with the Texas Math Solution. “Retention and transfer have increased dramatically,” he states.

“Absolutely,” agrees Ramirez. “The Texas Math Solution has really helped push our kids into not just doing math, but actually understanding how and why geometry works. And we’re not telling them why it works—they’re discovering it for themselves.”

Part of building conceptual understanding is the Texas Math Solution’s emphasis on hands-on instruction and tools. 

“Being in upper-level math, I lost sight of the need for a hands-on approach,” Mora shares. “I just assumed they were more mature, academic students so they didn’t need the manipulatives. But especially in Geometry, those tools are what help them develop understanding beyond a process or procedure.”

“It’s a challenge for students to use things like patty paper and protractors at first,” he continues. “But I stick to the Getting Started activities that show us how to use them, and we all become more comfortable with the tools as we go.”

However, the Texas Math Solution doesn’t let students get too comfortable. 

“It’s not designed to let students become completely comfortable with their learning,” states Mora. “The Texas Math Solution keeps them in that stage of productive struggle, where what they’re doing isn’t out of reach but it isn’t too easy. They’re always stretching, and that’s where they adapt and grow: in that uncomfortable spot.”

Building student agency and ownership of learning

Another benefit Muleshoe educators have seen with the Texas Math Solution is an increase in student engagement, agency, and ownership of learning.

The collaborative nature of the write-in textbook allows students to discuss and discover geometry concepts for themselves. “Now that I’m more of a facilitator, my students are learning so much more,” says Ramirez. “Rather than listening to me talk all period, they take ownership of what they learn because they talk to each other.”

The online, one-to-one coaching software MATHia also fosters student independence. “MATHia has really helped them build autonomy,” Ramirez shares. “Since they use it individually, it’s made them realize that when they show initiative and own their learning, they understand so much more.”

Mora agrees about the benefits of MATHia. “It took me a while to realize what was happening, but I have students getting up and walking across the room,” he says. “When I ask what they’re doing, they’re taking their MATHia to another student who they know gets it. It’s been a shift from going directly to me to working with each other to figure things out.”

Continually improving for a bright future

The future of geometry education in Muleshoe ISD classrooms is bright, especially with dedicated teachers like Mora and Ramirez at the helm. They aren’t resting on success, though; they look forward to improving their practice even more.

“I’m excited for the gap at the beginning of every year to get smaller and smaller,” Mora shares. “As I improve and my students improve, it’s going to be exciting to see where we can end up.”

Ramirez agrees. “I hope as I continue to use the Texas Math Solution, I just get better at it,” she says. “Carnegie Learning has helped me grow as a teacher, and I want that to continue.”

Explore the Texas Math Solution

*As of January 3rd, 2024, Mora has joined Carnegie Learning as a Manager of School Partnerships. He looks forward to supporting Texas math teachers across the state.