<b>SCHOOLS | </b>By Melissa Slager Herald writer
Teenagers can’t get out of high school anymore without passing geometry, much less algebra, the course that comes first.
But many freshmen arrive to class woefully unprepared for even that first step.
“Even if they work very hard, they’re too far behind – and they get frustrated and shut down,” said Amy MacDonald, an algebra teacher at Meadowdale High School.
So MacDonald came up with an idea for a summer math program that would help give struggling students a better chance at success. Her original idea was to pilot the program with Meadowdale Middle School, a feeder to Meadowdale High School. Edmonds School District leaders decided instead to extend the program to all of its middle schools.
Jump Start Algebra will be held Aug. 1-21. Invitations went out to nearly 400 students who will be starting ninth grade this fall. Students were invited based on their seventh-grade math test scores.
Fast-paced classes are designed to hold students’ interest while building their skills, step by step. There will be review. Some work will be done online. Students also may get a chance to use “clickers” to give individual answers in a group setting. There will be time for one-on-one work.
“Hopefully at the end of the day there will be a bigger problem they can work on in groups,” said Kim Verver, the district’s secondary math coordinator.
By early July, 35 students had registered. Teachers and staff hope to get a total of 100 kids signed up for the program. There is a $25 fee to help cover supplies costs.
Teachers are putting the curriculum together themselves rather than buying something off-the-shelf, which can be expensive.
In her summer class, MacDonald added there will be no calculators will be allowed. That’s because many students who struggle in math are missing the basic fundamentals.
Upperclassmen in the high school’s Link Crew, a peer mentoring program, also will visit the class to offer tips on the transition to high school.
The summer course offers the luxury of time, time teachers don’t have during the regular school year to fully address some students’ math needs.
“Plus kids have five other classes they have to deal with. And being a freshman sometimes is overwhelming,” McDonald said.
McDonald is excited to see how this inaugural venture goes and to follow students through the school year to see how they fare.
“It became a little bigger than I expected,” she said. “Even if it made three or four kids in each algebra class pass and do better, that’s massive.”