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North Pitt benefits form effort to boost math instruction

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The Daily Reflector

Monday, January 28, 2019

A public-private educational partnership will augment mathematics instruction at North Pitt High School this semester as part of a project to partner remote expertise with teachers on site at schools statewide.

The College Board and the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics are partnering with Chapel Hill-based Public Impact to reach rural North Carolina school districts with excellent NCSSM teachers, the partnership announced last week. The pilot project will focus on precalculus courses through June.

The effort will partner NCSSM teacher Maria Hernandez with North Pitt’s Sarah Donaldson as well as teachers at three other schools: Stanford Wickham at Vance County High School; Jocelyn Thammavong and Ashley Knox at New Bern High School; and Corrette Miller of Lexington Senior High School.

Hernandez will coach the teachers and provide instruction to students herself remotely, the news release said. The pilot effort will lay the groundwork to add more remotely located multi-classroom leaders from NCSSM and elsewhere.

"I am excited to be part of this project because I will be working with dedicated pre-calculus teachers from across North Carolina,” Hernandez said. “Our hope is to support each other as we share teaching practices and rigorous curriculum that will engage students and foster mathematical curiosity. Working to prepare students for higher-level mathematics courses can help us pave the way for greater access to STEM careers in the future."

The pilot is an extension of Public Impact’s national Opportunity Culture initiative, the news release said. The initiative extends the reach of excellent teachers and their teams to more students, for more pay, within schools’ recurring budgets.

Opportunity Culture multi-classroom leaders usually lead a small grade or subject teaching team within one school, providing instructional guidance and frequent on-the-job coaching while continuing to teach part of the time.

Accountable for the results of all students in the team, they also earn supplements averaging 20 percent (and up to 50 percent) of teacher pay, within the regular school budget.

The schools redesign schedules to provide additional school-day time for teacher planning, coaching and collaboration, the news release said.

Many rural and urban schools do not have enough teachers prepared to ensure student success in advanced math, science and other courses leading up to and including the AP level. This shortage was the impetus for the partnership of the College Board, which administers Advanced Placement testing, Public Impact and NCSSM.

In 2018, researchers at the Brookings Institution and American Institutes for Research released a study showing the effect Opportunity Culture multi-classroom leaders can have: Teachers who were on average at the 50th percentile in student learning gains, and who then joined teams led by multi-classroom leaders, produced learning gains equivalent to those of teachers from the 75th to 85th percentile in math.

And in 2017-18, Opportunity Culture schools in North Carolina — the largest implementation state so far, with about 80 schools — outpaced the state results in student growth overall (not just math).

While only 27 percent of non-Opportunity Culture schools in North Carolina exceeded student learning growth targets, nearly double that — 53 percent — of Opportunity Culture schools exceeded growth.

Opportunity Culture now includes more than 20 districts in nine states, but no district or state has used the option of a remotely located multi-classroom leader until the precalculus pilot.

The College Board expects the pilot to demonstrate a new way to provide many more students with advanced coursework from in-person teachers in locations lacking such instruction now, the release said.

“We’re excited that the pilot will inform how we can help teachers support more students, especially those in rural areas, in developing the skills necessary for college success,“ said David Gupta, vice president of the Public Impact 2 College Board’s Southern Regional Office. “This will prepare students for success in AP courses, which give students the opportunity to earn college credit for their hard work in high school.”

A hallmark of Opportunity Culture design is the higher pay for MCLs financed within existing school budgets. Public Impact will develop financial models that illustrate how Remotely Located Multi-Classroom Leadership could be expanded to schools across the country.

North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics will design and deliver the pre-calculus pilot course. Public Impact and NCSSM will design the remotely located MCL role and technology-enabled interaction with teachers and students.

This pilot is limited to districts and schools in North Carolina, a state with expanding interest in Opportunity Culture (eight N.C. districts so far belong to the Opportunity Culture initiative) and remote access to online AP courses.

Students benefit by being able to enroll in the class at their home school and receive both remotely delivered and in-person instruction. The in-person teachers benefit from the MCL’s guidance, support and teaching team collaboration.

“NCSSM teachers already deliver classes to students across the state through our distance learning initiative,” said Melissa Thibault, NCSSM’s vice chancellor for distance education and extended programs. “This pilot gives our educators a way to help more teachers benefit from the kind of leadership and educator collaboration that exists on our campus, so we can reach even more students.”

When the pilot concludes in June 2019, Public Impact will publish sample models and resources to encourage future design and implementation of Remotely Located Multi-Classroom Leadership across the U.S.

“Every student and teacher should have access to a professional team that will help them achieve high-growth learning in advanced subjects. In some locations, remotely-connected teams make that possible. We’re thrilled to have exemplary partners in the College Board, NCSSM, the school districts and dedicated educators to help achieve this goal,” said Stephanie Dean, vice president of strategic policy advising at Public Impact.

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