A year of moving up in math - ‘No one in our class is Below Basic’
A year of moving up in math - ‘No one in our class is Below Basic’
Posted on 06/09/2014
logoJessica Sparks made a significant announcement to her sixth grade homeroom class at Confluence Academy-Walnut Park.

J SparksAfter a school year of hard work and focus, classroom lessons, daily math challenges, assessment testing and everything else that goes into learning math, Sparks announced that no one in the class was Below Basic. The class decreased the number of Basic students from 48 percent to 38 percent, and increased the percent of Proficient and Advanced students from 48 percent to 60 percent. And last, but not least, the class has two Advanced students, up from zero in August.

The class of about 30 students made gains in their learning since school started last fall. The target was for students to gain 1.5 years of growth based on STAR assessment test. Overall, the class average was 1.88 years of growth.

“I have worked hard this year to invest my students in the testing process and I am pleased to say that it has really paid off!” said Sparks. “Every time they took the STAR math test, they were focused and determined to improve upon their last score.”

To celebrate their success, Sparks hosted an ice cream social. Gallon tubs of vanilla, chocolate and cookies and cream flavors, with toppings like crushed Oreo cookies, sprinkles, chocolate chips, chocolate syrup and caramel syrup, filled a table in the back of the room. Sparks’ parents were there to help, handing out certificates to students who earned recognition for their effort.

Every so often, after calling a name, Sparks would whisper into the honoree’s ear. Then she’d smile and share a quick story with the class. She explained how someone overcame a struggle in or how a student worked hard to do better. Her praise was genuinely enthusiastic.

“My students make me so proud every day, both with their academic accomplishments and CHAMPION spirit. Since the first day of school, these students have been working tirelessly to grow their math ability,” said Sparks.

Confluence Academy-Walnut Park encourages each student to be a CHAMPION – Consistent, Hardworking, Accountable, Motivated, Productive, Involved, Optimistic, Nurturing – in every aspect of learning.

CHAMPION Challenge“Each and every day starts with a CHAMPION Challenge, 10-15 math questions designed to review the skills students should know in sixth grade. Even before my students eat their breakfast, they warm up their brains by completing the first two problems of this assignment.

“During our math class, my students are engaged and eager to learn, and when faced with a new skill or concept, they work together to meet the challenge. When my students return to our classroom at the end of the day, we use the 15-25 minutes before dismissal to review what was learned in class, complete missing assignments or start on homework,” she continued.

Jeffery McMillian and Kabriolei Julion are Proficient. Why are they doing so well in Sparks’ class?

“She always works us. We never get a break,” said Jeffery. His tone implied he was serious, that the comment was a compliment, not a complaint.

“She encouraged us to do well on our tests,” said Kabriolei.

Jeffery and Kabriolei have similar interests when it comes to math concepts. They both “love to count money” and they like multiplication. Jeffery enjoys orders of operation and Kabriolei likes proportions. As for other school favorites, she likes reading, he likes science and they both enjoy social studies. Kabriolei’s been a student at Walnut Park since kindergarten. Jeffery started in third grade.

WP students
Kabriolei Julion and Jeffery McMillian, sixth graders, earned certificates of achievement for math proficiency at Confluence Academy-Walnut Park.