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Profiles in Success: Bruce School Makes Math Accessible to ELLs and Sees Higher Achievement

How did this Massachusetts school go from "targeted for improvement" to increasing student math interest, perseverance and achievement?

By Heera Kang January 26, 2017

2011 was a challenging year for Massachusetts' Lawrence Public School District. Classified as a turnaround district and taken over by the state, they focused their attention on those schools needing the most improvement. Bruce School was one of them.

With English language learners (ELLs) representing a full third of their students, math educators set about looking for solutions to help all students, including those facing language barriers, to build a stronger conceptual understanding of the content. 

They looked to ST Math as a technology-based supplement to their math curriculum initially because of the program's unique visual learning design. Not only did they see a higher level of math understanding from their ELLs who were able to engage in the learning, educators noted an overall increase in students' interest in math and their perseverance in problem solving. 

"We have seen a higher level of confidence in math since starting with ST Math. We see less of the 'I don't like math' or 'I'm scared of math' mindset."

—Cheryl Menz, Principal, Bruce School, MA

And they are happy to announce that their improved PARCC scores reflect this change in student engagement. In 2015-16, the school reports 69% of their ST Math students reached the top levels of achievement, as compared to 35% of students with low or no ST Math learning.

Though the term "turnaround district" carries a concerning connotation in education today, for Bruce School, they can carry the label "turnaround school" with pride. 

Read the whole story about Bruce School's turnaround here: 

 Download Bruce School's Profile in Success 

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Heera Kang was Manager of Engagement Content and Design at MIND Research Institute. Productive struggle, growth mindset and equity in education are some of her favorite topics.

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