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White Plains Schools Aim To Raise Math Scores

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — White Plains elementary school pupils will have a new math program in the fall to help them improve their scores on state standardized tests, Superintendent Christopher Clouet, said.

White Plains' third- through eighth-graders scored slightly higher overall on the state English Language Arts (ELA) and math tests taken in the spring, according to results released by the state Education Department Tuesday .

"We made some small progress, but it's larger than it looks because the tests were significantly harder this year," Clouet said. "The fact that we made some progress in that context is good."

All New York school districts can expect the tests to get even harder in 2013, when the Education Department implements the Regents Reform Agenda . To prepare, White Plains will introduce the enVision MATH program at the elementary level in the fall. The new program was developed by the Math Curriculum Advisory Committee.

Approved by the Board of Education at its July 2 meeting, the new program is more in line with the state's common core standards, Clouet said.

"That's an example, enVision MATH, of how we're adjusting to common core standards," Clouet said.

There will be a series of workshops at the beginning of the school year to introduce parents to the new program so they, too, can prepare.

The district will continue other initiatives in 2012-2013, such as early release days, where students are released one hour early about twice a month on Wednesdays. This will give teachers the time to meet together and develop common assessments, then analyze the data together and develop action plans.

Another step to success is the Intervention Block System (I-Block), where children are regrouped by their skill level for 40 minutes a day, allowing teachers to focus on enrichment and intervention for struggling students.

While struggling students are given the help they need, students who are on grade level or above will take part in Great Books, which is designed to engage students in "Socratic interaction" with one another. After reading a series of books, students will be asked to take and defend a position based on the text.

"Literacy is no longer just 'can you read and write,' it's 'can you speak to what you read and point to a position and defend it,' " Clouet said.

Local scores surpassed the state-wide average and were higher for math in fourth, seventh and eighth grades and higher for ELA in fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth grades. But local scores still trailed county averages.

"I'm pleased that we're exceeding the state average in ELA and math," said Clouet, who is still in the process of analyzing the results, along with the rest of the district. "I am optimistic that we are ready to take the next step."

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