A recent article on Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Scores discussed the gains made in English language arts in comparison to mathematics in Baltimore City Public Schools, as schools work to address the learning loss caused by COVID-19, but it omitted one of the factors in this success (“How Baltimore-area students scored on Maryland’s standardized testing in English and math,” Jan. 25). With the help of private funding raised and managed by the Fund for Educational Excellence, City Schools has implemented a teacher-led strategy of continuous improvement in middle and high schools across the city focused on improving students’ foundational literacy skills. This continuous improvement strategy empowers teachers to identify challenges in their classrooms, test solutions incrementally to learn quickly about what works and monitor progress. Over the past two years, participating middle grades teachers have seen marked improvements in their students’ literacy achievement, including fluency — which is a crucial component for strengthening students’ foundational reading and writing skills.
What is particularly encouraging about this success is the additional support the Fund for Educational Excellence recently received on behalf of the district to expand the district’s emerging continuous improvement approach into mathematics in elementary and middle grades. City Schools will now be able to replicate what was successfully implemented in literacy to empower mathematics teachers to deeply understand challenges faced and their root causes, test potential solutions to learn quickly about whether they lead to improvement, and ultimately spread tested best practices to their peers in the school and across the district. Both the Fund and the district believe this strategy has the potential to meaningfully accelerate student performance and that more people should know about the work.
As we all work to address the effects of the pandemic on student learning, we are encouraged by the promising results shown by the continuous improvement approach and are excited by its expansion into mathematics.
— Kevin Leary
The writer is senior program director of the Fund for Educational Excellence.
Add your voice: Respond to this piece or other Sun content by submitting your own letter.