Recognizing the need to address issues related to improving the academic preparation of IT students, BATEC and its high school and community college partners devised strategies around early math assessment professional development sessions for teachers and counselors to mitigate some of the curriculum readiness gaps. A series of five to ten workshops have been delivered between June 2009 and December 2010 at various school sites. These sessions included (1) a review of math and English test questions and a comparison of these questions to similar questions that students have seen on the MCAS or the SAT; (2) taking the Accuplacer Test on-line; (3) reviewing the results; and (4) designing intervention pilot programs.
Workshops have been held with teachers and interventions are being studied and developed to determine best approaches for addressing this significant issue. The goal is to expand school particiaption to about 20 high schools by June 2011.
In response to BATEC’s work in this area, Bristol Community College has instituted a policy of contacting all incoming students to provide them with information about the assessment and suggestions for preparing for the test. Bunker Hill Community College’s Professor Mike Puopolo has been piloting the Advancer+ program as part of preparing students for the Accuplacer in three area high schools. Middlesex Community College has been collaborating with teachers from Lowell area high schools to help their students improve their test performance.
In 2010, 57 teachers from 7 high schools and 2 community-based organizations have participated in workshops focused on discussing strategies for working with students to help improve their scores. Teachers have submitted lesson plans and have been working with others schools to develop a school-wide plan for improvement. Results demonstrating the effects of the workshops and curricular work will be known in June 2011. Meanwhile, teachers have been reporting changes in pedagogy and content in their individual classes. Impacts reported so far include:
- Greater Lowell has implemented a new course entitled Real Life Applications Of Algebra and Geometry. The course is targeted to seniors and incorporates Accuplacer test prep.
- Minuteman has developed and is offering a series of after-school workshops. The project outcomes will inform school curriculum moving forward.
- Billerica, Nashoba, Lowell and Chelmsford are reviewing their plans to design and implement intervention stragtegies.
- Shawsheen has developed a one week boot camp targeted to seniors that have not met the placement scores for college level math and English.
- Boston has trained 42 teachers to proctor the assessment and develop academic intervention tools targeting the class of 2011.
A more comprehenisve whole system change approach is being explored through a partnership project between the Boston Public School, The Boston Foundation and BATEC. The project includes 10 urban high schools in Boston and 2500 juniors. The project started with student testing in May 2010 and academic intervention in Spring 2011. The project outcome report is projected to be published in July 2011. Results will be shared with urban school districts, Department of Secondary and Higher Education, and Governor’s STEM Council to help inform and improve state level STEM preparation issues for students.