Boston Schools Get an 'A' for Improvement in Math

December 2, 2005

Two articles report that Boston's students showed the biggest improvement among 10 large cities in federal math testing of fourth- and eighth-graders.

According to the Associate Press article, Superintendent Thomas Payzant said students and teachers have grown more comfortable with changes to the math curriculum. "There is a real focus on helping students to think critically, to learn how to solve problems, not just be able to plug in the right numbers into the right equation," he said. "It's different from the way I learned mathematics." The Boston Globe article quotes Payzant as saying, "I was surprised by the amount of improvement. But it's never good enough until we get all students to proficiency."

According to the Globe, two years ago, 58 percent of Boston fourth-graders passed the math test. This year, 72 percent passed.

''God, those math numbers are eye-popping," said Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of Great City Schools, a group representing the largest urban districts. ''That is the single largest increase in any subject in any grade" since 2002, Casserly said. ''Overall, improvement in math was the best in the country."

As part of a comprehensive math program, Boston Public Schools began introducing the TERC-developed elementary math curriculum Investigations in Number, Data, and Space in 1999, with all schools implementing the curriculum starting in 2004.