Six months ago, the Partnership began working with 15 elementary schools in DeSoto ISD and Grand Prairie ISD to improve early grades math achievement for over 8,900 students. Since then, principals have formed learning communities and connected in new ways with partners like SMU and the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.

Principal Learning Communities:
Monthly principal meetings have emerged as a discussion space for principals to learn from each other’s challenges and successes. One principal shared that the most helpful part of these meetings is the “collaboration of best practices from campus to campus.” This collaboration, with guidance from SMU, comes from different data-driven conversations around common assessments, new math standards, and early grades math achievement.

Through analysis of STAAR and district common assessments, principals have uncovered insights about the importance of early grades math. In DeSoto, for example, students who averaged less than 70% on their 2nd grade math district assessments were only 2% likely to meet Final Recommended two years later on their 4th grade math STAAR. Those who averaged above 90% on those same assessments were 71% likely to meet Final Recommended two years later.

Additionally, principals have explored the relationship between early math achievement and later literacy achievement. When looking at Grand Prairie and DeSoto ISD, low readers were 49% more likely to meet STAAR reading standards in 3rd grade if they scored in the top third of 2nd grade math. Rather than downplay the need for high-quality literacy instruction, principals have responded with a desire for a more balanced approach to both early literacy and early math.

Perot Museum’s Math Alive Exhibit:
Throughout December, nearly 1,400 students across the 7 DeSoto ISD elementary schools spent a day interacting with the national Math Alive Exhibit at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. Students got to apply their math knowledge by graphing the speed of a mountain bike as it went up and down a mountain, engineering their own cities with bridges and transportation networks, creating musical medleys with different fraction combinations, and many more interactive activities. Students walked away from the day with a new perspective of how math applied to different careers and opportunities for their future.

In the year ahead, Grand Prairie and DeSoto principals plan to visit outlier schools across the region to continue to learn from others and develop best practices for their campuses.

To learn more and get involved, please reach out to Sagar Desai at Sagar.Desai@commit2dallas.org.