NJ district boosts scores with math import

At the beginning of the 2009-2010 academic year, school administrators in Old Bridge, New Jersey began piloting a new math program in hopes that it would help boost students’ overall aptitude in math. In December 2010, independent evaluation firm Educational Research Institute of America (ERIA) conducted a study on the instructional effectiveness of the pilot program, which yielded significant results.

ERIA reviewed students’ mathematics scores from the New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge (ASK) in order to determine the effect of the program, Math in Focus, on standardized test scores and overall competency. Analysis of data showed implementing Math in Focus with fourth graders was associated with a significant increase in student math performance. When ERIA compared students’ 2009 NJ ASK scores, researchers found no difference between students' test scores prior to using the program. However, in 2010 when ERIA examined NJ ASK scores after one year of using Math in Focus, students exposed to the program had a 12.4 point increase in average test performance while the rest of the students in the district only increased by 3.5 points.

“This study is the proof in the pudding that Math in Focus is working for our students,” said Donna Kibbler, Director of Elementary Education in Old Bridge, NJ. “Partnering with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for professional development has allowed our teachers to move from being just comfortable teaching math to reaching a new level of confidence in their math teaching ability. The students, teachers, and parents in our district truly see the benefits of Singapore math.”

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, provider of Math in Focus to the United States, first introduced the program in April 2009. It is the U.S. version of Singapore’s most widely used program, My Pals Are Here! Maths for K–5, which offers a progression of instruction that focuses on fewer topics in greater depth to allow students to better understand critical math topics. HMH is now working with Marshall Cavendish-Singapore to extend the series to grades 6-8 in fall 2011 and 2012.