Representatives from 25 schools were on hand for a special recognition luncheon Thursday hosted by the Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB) and SET SEG School Insurance Specialists to present the 2012 Education Excellence Awards.
"This year's Education Excellence winners demonstrate that excellence is all around us in our public schools, despite their numerous challenges, financial restraints and unending reforms.," said Kathy Hayes, MASB Executive Director, "This year's winners clearly know what it takes to positively impact student achievement. Our public schools are stepping up to get the job done."
Otsego High School was awarded this honor for its Math Lab, an intervention program for students in Algebra I. It was a program implemented in the 2009-10 school year to address the fact that more than half of students weren't passing with at least a 60% grade.
"We were concerned students would not progress through the Michigan Merit Curriculum with these rates," Assistant Principal and Director of Secondary Instruction Heather Kortlandt wrote to MASB. The solution was Math Lab, "It diagnoses problem areas, provides students with a tool to think about what they did wrong, show how to re-work the math problems and gives another opportunity to show proficiency," Kortlandt said.
The Mathematics Professional Learning Community (PLC) spent the last part of the 2007/2008 school year and the first part of the 2008/2009 school year in innovative discussions about how to create more time and diagnose student troubles more quickly and frequently. Teachers also worked at shifting the paradigm with which they operated in to be focused on the learning.
Math Lab is offered every day, alternating between before and after-school time slots. Students are assigned to Math Lab if they feel they need assistance or do not pass a section quiz.
In addition to looking at ways to implement helpful steps and give students more time, they also raised the bar of what should be considered passing. Looking at "mastery" of the subject, they raised the passing grade to 70% or higher, up from 60%.
"The success of the Math Lab program was evident almost immediately," Kortlandt said. Since full implementation began in 2009/2010, student achievement in the Algebra I sequence has risen dramatically, with an average of 86% of students passing now, along with a new definition of a passing score set at 70%. Otsego also saw a significant jump in the 2011 MME scores in Mathematics. Those students had two full years of Math Lab available to them.
Otsego Public Schools has won two other MASB Education Excellence awards in 2009 and 2010. The first was for our literacy initiative "Rewiring the Brain" and the next for the "JumpStart!" program, a way to get students' brains and bodies focused for the day by exercising before school.