FIU contributes to improved algebra test scores in struggling Miami-Dade schools

In its second year, a collaborative project by FIU and Miami-Dade County Public Schools produced encouraging results for students struggling in math in four of the district’s most challenged high schools.

M-DCPS End of Course Exam

Fifty-four students from challenged high schools in Miami-Dade came to FIU’s Mastery Math Lab to prepare for their end of the year algebra assessments.

Fifty-four students, identified as being at-risk of failing the Florida Department of Education End-of-Course (EOC) Algebra I Assessments, spent three Saturdays at FIU preparing for the test. This year, students from Miami Carol City, Miami Edison, North Miami and Miami Northwestern attended the Saturday sessions.

“The students that participated in our work again were the borderline students,” said Leanne Wells, Title V Mastery Math and Secondary Education programs coordinator for FIU’s College of Arts & Sciences. “They had the potential to do well, but were not performing to match that potential.”

The students in the FIU sessions performed 10 percentage points above the overall high school pass rate for the county. The overall EOC Algebra I pass rate for Miami-Dade County high school students is just 53 percent.

The visits consisted of time in FIU’s Mastery Math Lab working on practice questions and worksheets. They used a specially designed, interactive web-based program to practice graphing linear equations, factoring and simplifying polynomial expressions — all identified as challenging areas on the electronically administered EOC exams.

“Algebra is a gatekeeper course for STEM education,” Wells said. “Sharing the Mastery Math Lab resources, including its highly skilled learning assistants, is a natural extension of FIU’s commitment to advancing science and mathematics literacy in South Florida.”

The project emerged as part of a broader initiative between FIU and Miami-Dade County Public Schools called ACCESS — Achieving Community Collaboration in Education and Student Success. ACCESS encompasses programs focused on minority education, teacher training, tutoring, academic leadership development and college readiness.

With two successful years on record, the plan is to once again host the Saturday sessions in 2015.

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