No quick fix for Montgomery County’s poor math scores

WASHINGTON – There may be no quick fix to improve math scores in Montgomery County schools, the district’s staffers told the Board of Education Monday.

The staffers studied the county’s high failure rates in final math exams — a problem that is not new to the school system.

During the briefing at Monday’s Board of Education meeting, terms like “bin items” and “vertical articulation” peppered the discussion, but board member Phil Kauffman wanted to know if there would be any sign of change by January.

“This is not a new problem,” said Kauffman.

A math work group was formed after figures made public in spring showed students who were passing their classes were failing on their final exams at alarming rates. More than 70 percent of students taking the geometry final exams failed them.

Associate Superintendent of Curriculum and Instructional Policies Erick Lang was blunt, saying there would be no quick fix by January, or even by the end of the year.

“We are going to look at [the failure rates] from different angles, and see what we can find to get at the root cause,” said Lang.

Kauffman noted that in May of 2000, the county school board was looking at a very similar issue: failure rates of 64 percent on some final exams.

“I was looking at all the board members comments at that time, and the issue was, looking at our curriculum, looking at our interventions, looking at our staff development, looking at our policies. A lot of the things we’re talking about now,” Kauffman said.

Readers can view the discussion of the math work group on the Montgomery County Board of Education’s website.

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report. Follow @KateRyanWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

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