Closing the Gap for 6th Grade Math Students
Today, schools in Oklahoma are being graded largely on their students’ achievement levels in four core curriculum subject areas (Oklahoma State Department, 2014). If a student fails to gain the knowledge needed in only one content area each year, then by the end of 5th grade he or she could possibly be behind in six content areas or be six years behind in one area. A number of students come into (6th grade) middle school math classes without the necessary math skills to begin the state core curriculum for their grade level (O’Byrne, Securro, Jones, Cadle, 2006 ). Oklahoma’s 6th grade math curriculum has definite expectations that must be met before a student can begin the curriculum and expect to have any success. Students entering 6th grade are expected to be proficient in operations with fractions and decimals (Oklahoma Academic Standards, 2014). During sixth grade students will learn to evaluate expressions and solve equations that contain fractions and decimals (Oklahoma Academic Standards, 2014). A need exists to find the best method to identify the students with deficiencies and address those deficiencies by adjusting instructional strategies at the beginning of the school year in order to give those students an opportunity to be successful in class and to score at the proficient level on state tests.
Definition of Terms
Oklahoma Core Curriculum Tests (OCCT) are administered in various subjects in grades 3 through 8.
Oklahoma Academic Standards adopted in 2010 are the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
An Integrated Learning System (ILS) is a software package that delivers computer based instructional content that tracks student mastery of defined skills and based on student performance will remediate them in deficient content areas.
Technology Enhanced Formative Evaluation System (TEFE) allows teachers to use technology to evaluate and receive immediate feedback so they can change instructional needs quickly.
Ability Grouping is the process of assigning students to classes based on their previous test results.
Co-Teaching has been described as two or more educators combining their expertise and skills to teach collaboratively to students in a shared classroom (Friend & Cook, 2010).
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to determine if using Integrated Learning Software and co-teaching strategies can effectively identify and address learning deficiencies in sixth grade math students and in turn increase the number of students scoring at the proficient or advanced level on state tests.
Rationale for the Study and Its Significance
Previous research shows the separate benefits of Integrated Learning Systems, ability grouping classes and co-teaching strategies. This researcher would like to consider how they can be used together to help teachers identify skills that students do not yet have and employ different teaching strategies to help fill in the gaps.