Franklin Park third-graders ace math test again
Pietrini Elementary School students Jazmine Lopez (left) and Ema Karajic collaborate to plot a picture graph. | Kevin Tanaka~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 4, 2013 6:39AM
FRANKLIN PARK — Every spring, elementary school students in third through eighth grade take the Illinois Standards Achievement Test for reading and math.
And despite standards that have gotten tougher over the years, the third-graders at Pietrini Elementary School have risen the challenge.
For 2011 and 2012, 100 percent of third-graders at the Franklin Park school have met or exceeded state standards in math.
That compares to statewide average math scores for third-graders of 87 percent in 2011 and 88 percent in 2012, according to the Illinois Interactive Report Card website.
“One girl had a perfect score in math,” Principal Lois Fronczke said. “That’s the first time in my seven years I’ve had a perfect score on any achievement test.”
Fronczke credits several factors in the math scores. Perhaps most interesting is that helping students in reading seems to improve their math.
“I think our reading program comes into play,” Fronczke said. “Math has a language of its own. We offer them lots of opportunities to use words in speech and writing.”
Third-grade teacher Kim Vitale agreed reading seems to play a role.
“There’s a large amount of word problems,” Vitale said. “They have to be able to read the word problems and comprehend them in order to solve them. They have to know what the words mean to know if they should add or subtract or the specific skills involved.”
Five years ago the school began using a new math instruction program called Math Expressions. Prior to that, teachers largely led discussions in the classroom. That’s changed.
“Now there’s a lot more student-led discussion,” Vitale said. “There’s a lot more student engagement with each other instead of the teacher telling them everything.”
Two years ago, teachers were trained in an overall model called Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol. It calls for such actions announcing lesson goals at the beginning and end and using vocabulary that students can understand.
“I wasn’t seeing consistency with it being utilized,” Fronczke said. “Last year we made sure all teachers were incorporating that model throughout the day for all subjects.”
Math skills tends to build from year to year. Third grade math skills depend on math learned in second grade, Vitale said.