DuPage students grow in math through well-being, early numeracy, curriculum updates

  • Teacher Jill Vonnahme works with eighth-grader Saniyah Mohiuddin in algebra class Monday at Butler Junior High in Oak Brook. To focus on growth from already strong proficiency in math and English language arts, educators in Butler District 53 partnered with parents, teachers, police, the park district and the school lunch provider to improve student health and well-being.

      Teacher Jill Vonnahme works with eighth-grader Saniyah Mohiuddin in algebra class Monday at Butler Junior High in Oak Brook. To focus on growth from already strong proficiency in math and English language arts, educators in Butler District 53 partnered with parents, teachers, police, the park district and the school lunch provider to improve student health and well-being. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Teacher Loren Martell teaches a pre-algebra class Tuesday at Blackhawk Middle School in Bensenville, where educators are focusing as early as kindergarten on teaching core skills that will help with algebra. These skills include counting, understanding place values, putting multipart numbers together and visualizing a "number line" to help grasp the concept of negative numbers.

      Teacher Loren Martell teaches a pre-algebra class Tuesday at Blackhawk Middle School in Bensenville, where educators are focusing as early as kindergarten on teaching core skills that will help with algebra. These skills include counting, understanding place values, putting multipart numbers together and visualizing a "number line" to help grasp the concept of negative numbers. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 10/30/2018 6:59 PM

Growth scores measuring student progress from one year to the next are listed for the first time this year on the Illinois Report Card, and in DuPage County, students in a majority of districts showed better growth in math than in English.

Growth scores, expressed as percentages, are reported for districts with students in the elementary or middle grades.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The scores show students at 16 of 25 DuPage districts in the Daily Herald's coverage area made better progress in math than in English language arts, with the strongest math growth achieved by pupils in Butler Elementary District 53 in Oak Brook. Butler's students showed 59.7 percent growth in math, which means they grew at the same level or better than 59.7 percent of their same-age peers across the state. A growth score of 50 percent is considered average on a scale of 1 to 99.

The districts showing the next-highest math growth include Medinah Elementary District 11, Itasca Elementary District 10, Bensenville Elementary District 2 and Benjamin Elementary District 25. Growth in these districts ranged from 58.9 percent in Medinah to 56.9 percent in the Benjamin district.

High-growth districts say there's no one secret to improvement but rather a combination of factors. All say they put a strong emphasis on teacher training to step up the rigor of instruction.

Butler District 53 has not only the highest math growth in DuPage County but also the highest proficiency in the subject -- with 74.7 percent of students districtwide meeting or exceeding standards. The district has worked to enhance student well-being and performance by working with police, parents, teachers, the park district and even the school lunch provider.

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"Our kids feel safe and they're able to focus on learning," Superintendent Heidi Wennstrom said. "The children have a great ability to be challenged, to access rigor and to just explore."

In Bensenville Elementary District 2, math proficiency is 28.1 percent districtwide, but educators are celebrating the 57.5 percent growth score their students achieved.

The district is in its fourth year implementing a new math curriculum and has focused on building the concepts of algebra as early as kindergarten. Angie Adams, a math interventionist, said this means making sure kids understand counting, place values and how multipart numbers are put together. This helps students visualize a "number line," preparing them to grasp concepts such as negative numbers.

District 2's early focus on numeracy has led to "by far the most growth" this year for kids who receive extra help in math, said Adams, who has been in her position 11 years.

Time also matters in helping students grow in math. DuPage districts including Medinah District 11 say the past several years they have put into adjusting curriculum to match Common Core State Standards and updating tests so teachers know if students are on track is paying off in this year's growth.

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