Eureka Math and Wit & Wisdom Help California Charter School Network Continue Strong Gains in Math and ELA

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SCHOOLS PROFILE


Santa Ana
438 students
86% low-income
40% English Learners
96% Hispanic/Latino

Adopted Eureka Math in
School Year 2016–2017
Adopted Wit & Wisdom in
School Year 2016–2017


Oceanside
318 students
55% low-income
18% English Learners
61% Hispanic/Latino

Adopted Eureka Math in
School Year 2017–2018
Adopted Wit & Wisdom in
School Year 2016–2017


Total
756 students
73% low-income
30% English Learners
81% Hispanic/Latino

The Scholarship Prep Public Schools network in southern California continues to make strong gains in student achievement in math and English language arts, outpacing the state and neighboring school districts.

The Santa Ana campus posted 40-point gains in math and 24-point gains in ELA in the percentage of students proficient or above on the state’s Smarter Balanced test between School Years 2016–2017 and 2018–2019. Scholarship Prep’s Oceanside campus posted 9- and 4-point gains, respectively, on the test between School Years 2017-2018 and 2018-2019. The average state gains on both tests during the same period were much lower—ranging from 1 point to 3 points.

Four bar charts that show the percentage point increase in students scoring level 3 or 4 on the California Smarter Balanced test from school year 2016-17 to school year 2018-19. The first two bar charts compare the performance of students at the Santa Ana campus to the state in Math and ELA. For both subject areas, the Santa Ana campus outpaces the state in percentage point increase. In the second row of bar charts, the bar charts compare the performance of students at the Oceanside campus to the state for Math and ELA. For both subject areas, the Oceanside students outpace the state in percentage point increase. Overall, students at the Santa Ana campus saw greater percentage point increases than at the Oceanside campus.

On the 2017–2018 test, of all the schools in the state, Scholarship Prep–Santa Ana boasted the highest year-to-year percentage growth in students’ meeting or exceeding the Common Core State Standards on the statewide math assessment. On the ELA test, the school ranked 45th of 10,634 schools—or in the top 1 percent—on the same metric, based on the school’s analysis of statewide data from the nonprofit EdSource.

Eureka Math has helped students see math as connected from year to year."

Andrew Crowe, chief academic Officer

What’s behind this growth? School leaders partially credit their decision to adopt two innovative curricula from Great Minds®: Eureka Math® and the ELA program Wit & Wisdom®.

Scholarship Prep is part of a network of charter schools that added a third campus in Fall 2019. All are committed to providing “a university-inspired pathway of success while closing the achievement gap for all students, including foster youth and those underserved.” The network’s cofounders are Jason Watts and Gloria Romero, the former Democratic majority leader of the California State Senate and a longtime advocate for educational excellence and innovation.

Indeed, it was the promise of innovation that helped Chief Academic Officer Andrew Crowe persuade his colleagues to adopt both Eureka Math and Wit & Wisdom in the 2016–2017 school year. From his previous work in other charter school organizations, Crowe was familiar with the predecessors of both curricula: EngageNY Math and the Wheatley Portfolio, respectively.

Initially, though, not all of Crowe’s teacher colleagues were won over by the unique approaches of these curricula. “For some, it was a culture shock not to have a traditional math textbook,” he says.

But when Crowe showed them Eureka Math’s in-depth modules and units and reminded them that charter schools are supposed to innovate and disrupt traditional approaches, they bought in.

The positive ratings for both curricula from the independent nonprofit EdReports.org were also an important selling point.

EUREKA MATH AND WIT & WISDOM: KEY BENEFITS

Crowe says Eureka Math gives teachers methodologies for grouping material, organizing lessons, and creating small group sessions. The Mid-Module Assessments also help teachers identify specific student needs and adjust instruction before the End-of-Module Assessments.

The strengths of Wit & Wisdom, Crowe says, include the front-loaded vocabulary, writing rubrics, and engaging books that inspire students to find textual evidence to support their answers. The curriculum also helps improve teachers’ abilities to incorporate multiple texts (primary and secondary, fiction and nonfiction) into one lesson or assessment.

Crowe says Wit & Wisdom has been particularly beneficial to the foster youth at Scholarship Prep as well as to English learners who are new to the United States. The students respond to the culturally relevant and real-world material in the curriculum, especially books focused on resilience, courage in crisis, and teens as change agents. (Scholarship Prep’s charter includes a special mission to serve youth in foster care who are typically underserved, a phenomenon documented in an article in The 74.)

OVERCOMING GROWING PAINS

The rigor of Wit & Wisdom required some adjustment for teachers at first. Instead of working from a single textbook, teachers have to learn to use a more diverse reading list with a mix of fiction and nonfiction. But, Crowe adds, teachers love the richness of the new materials.

Another challenge is finding the time to cover all the material. As a result, Crowe says, he and the faculty have customized the modules to focus on the most important content. The curriculum is designed to allow teachers that flexibility.

Wit & Wisdom has helped show students that there are themes across multiple sources that can be used to pull out greater meaning.”

— Andrew Crowe, chief academic officer

The schools offer a range of professional development, including two-week sessions in the summer and monthly sessions and cross-grade professional learning communities throughout the school year.

During the 2019-2020 school year, in order to further deepen content expertise, the schools started having teachers in Grades 3 and 4 focus on a particular content area during their planning periods. Also new in 2019-2020: Revised teacher evaluations place a premium on student engagement.

Crowe is particularly proud of the school’s partnership with the Orange County Department of Education, which trains faculty from both Scholarship Prep and traditional public schools on Eureka Math and Wit & Wisdom.

“You rarely see charter schools working with their authorizer and traditional district schools,” he says.

Classroom teachers play a central role in training new teachers, Crowe says. That’s because they believe in the curricula and want all students, especially those entering new classrooms from lower grades, to master its concepts and strategies.

“Our teachers are bought in and want to be the ones who train new teachers,” Crowe says.
Crowe, like his peers in other districts, says that teachers appreciate the materials the more they use them.

“They see how thoughtful and intentional both Eureka Math and Wit & Wisdom are. And then they saw the huge jump in achievement—number one in the state,” he says, adding that that success reinforced teachers’ enthusiasm and commitment.

Students also welcome the increased rigor. Eureka Math has helped students see math as connected from year to year,” Crowe says. Wit & Wisdom has helped show students that there are themes across multiple sources that can be used to pull out greater meaning.”

 

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Topics: Professional Development Data Stories Student Achievement