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ERIC Number: EJ734109
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005-Sep
Pages: 5
Abstractor: Author
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-1074-4762
Literacy Specialists in Math Class! Closing the Achievement Gap on State Math Assessments
DiGisi, Lori L.; Fleming, Dianne
Voices from the Middle, v13 n1 p48-52 Sep 2005
Sixth and eighth grade students who are English language learners must be able to read and interpret 39 math word problems in order to successfully calculate the answers on the Massachusetts state math assessment (MCAS). The first year that MCAS was administered, many ELL students read the questions, found them confusing, and left them blank, earning an automatic zero. Recognizing the challenges in reading math problems, Literacy Specialists at Fuller Middle School in Framingham, began working with math teachers to find out exactly what the test was asking students to do, and how they could help students in ELL classes, succeed. They determined that in addition to knowing math, students need to learn how to read questions so that they can demonstrate their mathematical understanding. Collaborating with the math teachers, a series of lessons to help ELL and standard curriculum students improve their mathematical literacy was developed. For ELL students who may not have as much experience with standardized tests, or the language of these tests, a supportive setting becomes a safe place to ask the questions they need to ask, to learn the math that they may have missed along the way, and to practice with the language that they need to be successful. These sessions, co-taught by a literacy specialist and a math teacher, enabled most students to feel like the sixth grader who wrote, "I think I was prepared. Most of the questions were pretty easy. And I didn't feel nervous or scared."
National Council of Teachers of English. 1111 W. Kenyon Road, Urbana, IL 81801-1096. Tel: 877-369-6283; Tel: 217-328-3870; Fax: 217-328-9645; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A