NEW YORK, Nov. 18, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The Two Rivers Public Charter School in Washington, D.C., boasted a math achievement in 2013 that was 24% above the state average. This kind of performance – echoed throughout its K-8 student scores – has helped the school amass a waiting list of more than 2,000 families. What's going on here? Does Two Rivers have a knack for finding and recruiting math-smart teachers, or are they doing something different with the teachers they already have?
Expeditionary Learning's Chief Academic Officer Ron Berger argues in his recent Education Week blog (http://bit.ly/1zzZCsC) that the school is tapping into something new and powerful. And that something is taking on the long-held belief (and frequent reality) among teachers themselves that math is not their strong suit.
"Not all teachers, particularly elementary teachers, feel sharp and deep in mathematics content and understanding," Berger writes. "As someone who spent over 25 years as an elementary teacher and 20 years coaching elementary teachers, the number of teachers who have said to me, 'I was never good at math,' is alarming."
Four years ago, Two Rivers tackled this challenge head-on. The school isn't selective – it has a typical urban population drawn from a lottery – and does not have a big budget. But what it did have on its side is that it is part of the Expeditionary Learning network; Expeditionary Learning, a K-12 education nonprofit, partners with schools and conducts deeply dynamic learning opportunities for teachers in the schools it works with.
To improve its students' math performance, Two Rivers asked its teachers to do something different. In the first year of this challenge, the entire faculty worked all year long on their own mathematical proficiency. They did not work on teaching math; they worked on learning math. Throughout Year One and during subsequent years, the teachers had to step up and reveal their own math gaps. They made their learning and growth public, to their peers and to students.
"The Two Rivers teachers modeled personal growth in two important ways," Berger says. "They had growth in mathematical understanding, and growth in academic mindset and courage. Their energy was infectious in the school, and students could not help but get swept up." As one teacher said, "The students' perceptions of math are transformed."
"The uncommon success of Two Rivers," says Berger, "is based primarily on one thing: the commitment, growth mindset, and intellectual courage of its teachers."
To speak with Ron Berger, or for more information about Expeditionary Learning, please contact Suzanne Oaks Brownstein or Trang Mar of Temin and Company at 212-588-8788 or [email protected].
About Expeditionary Learning
Expeditionary Learning is a leading K-12 education non-profit that is meeting the national challenge to raise student achievement. Combining challenging work with the joy of discovery and pride in mastery, EL offers the education we would want for every child: one that prepares citizens with both the skills and the character necessary for success throughout college, work and life.
Our portfolio of instructional materials and coaching services draws on 20+ years of success in more than 160 EL schools, serving 4,000 teachers and 53,000 students in 31 states and Washington D.C. Based on founding principles of meaningful work, character and respect for teachers, EL's offerings transform teaching and learning to promote habits of scholarship and character that lead to high student achievement, regardless of student background. In addition to success on standardized tests, EL students demonstrate critical thinking, intellectual courage and emotional resilience; they possess the passion and the capacity to contribute to a better world. For more information, visit http://elschools.org.
SOURCE Expeditionary Learning