As with so many other school districts around the country, we at Brazosport Independent School District (ISD) in Texas have struggled with ensuring that our ninth-grade students start their high school careers with the foundation in math skills necessary to tackle Algebra and higher level math. Many of our students were entering their freshman year with significant gaps in their skills and had not passed the math portion of the state assessment, the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS), for several years.
Recognizing that research shows that students who fail Algebra in ninth grade are at a significantly higher risk of dropping out of school, we knew that we needed a proven intervention program to help students fill the gaps and be on track for success in high school, careers, and higher education.
We turned to Ascend Math, a complete math intervention program. Ascend combines continuous assessment, targeted instruction, prescriptive tutorials, and powerful reporting tools to give students a direct route to improved math performance. Research demonstrates that Ascend Math closes math gaps of up to two grade levels in a semester. And the results realized by our students support and exceed those findings.
Located on the Gulf Coast, our district serves 13,000 students from a number of nearby small communities. South of Houston and just miles from the beach, Brazosport ISD has two high schools, three intermediate schools, two middle schools, and 11 elementary schools. More than 50 percent of our students are minority, and many are English language learners.
While we are proud of our educational excellence – 10 of our elementary schools have been named “exemplary,” as have both of our high schools – our students continued to be weak in math achievement year after year.
Yet, just increasing the amount of time that students were spending practicing math was not producing the improvement that was so critically needed. Our district chose Ascend Math for the intensive instructional math intervention that would put our students back on track to tackle higher level high school math and be prepared for the rigors of college math courses.
When Ascend Math was first introduced, some of our teachers had doubts. As one teacher said, “Administration made me go to the Ascend training in December. I didn’t want to go. I knew I wouldn’t like it.”