A new report issued by McGraw-Hill Education documents the success that eight schools across the country have had with the Impact Mathematics middle-school curriculum. Results with Impact Mathematics, produced in collaboration with the Council of Chief State School Officers and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, includes quotes from educators about the changes they’ve seen since they implemented Impact, as well as test score data demonstrating marked improvements in student performance.
Impact Mathematics, developed by Glencoe/McGraw-Hill Education and EDC, is a comprehensive, standards-based program that takes a developmental approach to teaching algebra over the three years of middle school. Inspired by the Australian curriculum, Access to Algebra, Impact Mathematics is rooted in principles of active learning and includes geometry, statistics, probability, and algebra. The curriculum is unique in the way it combines basic skills instruction with conceptual understanding, according to several educators who were interviewed for the Resultsreports. “Impact is in the middle,” says Tom Surdam, a teacher at Glenn Westlake Middle School in Lombard, Illinois. “It’s part traditional and part open-ended, and there are no gaps in terms of covering state standards.”
It’s that sort of balance that led the New York City Department of Education to adopt Impact as its middle school mathematics curriculum. “We heard…calls for greater consistency and for a rich curriculum that also provides a grounding in the basics,” said New York School Chancellor Joel Klein. “Impact Mathematics answers those calls.” New York began a gradual roll out of the curriculum this academic year.
Impact is proving to be well-aligned with standards in several different states, as illustrated by test results shared by several educators and districts. For example:
- Susan Wesson, an 8th grade teacher at Oregon’s Skyview Middle School, credits Impact for improving her students’ performance on a state-wide mathematics exam: “In 2003, my 8th grade students’ scores significantly increased from the previous year, with 100% of students using Impact 3 meeting or exceeding the state math standards, whereas before, 53% did not meet standards.”
- The passing percentage on the 8th grade state standards test in the New York Mills Junior / Senior High School (New York Mills, Minnesota) has increased by 15% in the three years since it has implemented Impact Mathematics. In 2000-2001, 66.7% of 8th graders passed the test; by 2001-2002 the percentage of students had increased to 76.4%. In 2002-2003, 81.5% received passing grades.”
- At the Spotswood Memorial Middle School (Spotswood, New Jersey), results on the State of New Jersey’s 2002 Grade Eight Proficiency Assessment in Mathematics showed an increase of 18% from 2001 in students who scored between proficient and advanced proficient.
These positive results on standardized tests are supported by reports from the classroom, where teachers say they that Impact is engaging and challenging a wide range of students. Here are some quotes collected from teachers and administrators in the eight schools profiled in the report:
- “We’ve found that Impact does an excellent job of teaching mathematical thinking and reasoning. Students know how to approach a question and find a way of working through to the answer,” says Bob Kalac, Mathematics Department Chair at Butler (Penn.) Junior High. “It requires the kids to do thinking on their own and really prepares them for state assessment questions.”
- “The higher level of math skills and concepts that we’re teaching now in 7th grade were formerly taught at 8th grade,” says Tom Surdam of Glenn Westlake Middle School. “I’d say about 25% of what the seventh graders are learning now they used to get in 8th grade.”
- “Impact raised the bar for a cohesive middle school program,” comments Dennis McCowan, mathematics department chair at Weston (Mass.) High School. “It moves kids into thinking about big ideas in math, instead of individual problems. It gives teachers a tool for working students through the development stages of acquiring math.
- Lynn Sullivan, Mathematics Chair at the Gibbons Middle School in Westborough, Massachusetts, believes that Impact has transformed classrooms into mathematics laboratories “that are rich in technology, math explorations, and applications. Students are actively involved, exploring mathematics and making both real world as well as interdisciplinary connections.”
- Mark Strong, Math Department Chair at Ithaca (Mich.) Middle and High Schools believes Impact is providing middle grades students with strong preparation for high school mathematics. “Impact Mathematics is hard; students have covered advanced topics like exponential curves. Typically, the problem with 9th graders is that it’s a difficult transition from a nurturing environment to a ‘rough and tough’ high school. We’re thinking that this will make for an easier transition to high school.”
“This is my twentieth year here,” adds Strong, “and everything is telling us that this is the way to teach mathematics. Sometimes we don’t ask nearly enough of our kids, but they can do this. They rise to our expectations.”
Originally published on April 1, 2004