Iberia Parish and Vermilion Parish were among the Louisiana school districts showing the most student achievement gains in math since 2014, based on recently released Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test scores. Officials in these neighboring districts, both of which use Eureka Math®, say that collaboration with colleagues inside and outside the districts was a major factor in their success.
Iberia, which educates more than 13,000 students (70% low-income) in 25 schools, tied for 9th statewide in gains for grade 4 and tied for 6th in grade 5, based on changes in the percentage of students scoring mastery and above on the state test between 2014 and 2015. Iberia outpaced the state in all but grade 8, where it still improved by 19 percentage points in the past year.
Vermilion, which educates 9,400 students in 21 schools, was among the top 10 most improved districts in the state in grades 3, 4, 5, and 7. And it outgained the state averages in all but grade 6.
Both districts collaborated with each other and with neighboring Lafayette, particularly as they were all starting to implement Eureka Math district-wide during the 2013–2014 school year. The Vermilion-Lafayette partnership was especially robust, as the districts co-developed tools such as parent newsletters, flip charts, assessments, and classroom coaches. “It started because my best friend was the 5th grade math leader in Lafayette,” said Torrie Guzzetta, district math facilitator for Vermilion Parish. Multiple districts from across the country have turned to Lafayette for advice and resources such as popular parent guides. Lafayette also posted very strong gains on this spring’s PARCC test, exceeding the state average in all six grades and making significant gains in its statewide ranking. In grade 8 math, for example, the district jumped from 40th statewide to 18th in the percentage of students scoring mastery and above on the statewide test. (Louisiana switched from the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program to the PARCC assessment in the 2014–15 school year.)
In Iberia, officials are especially excited that teachers are so eager to initiate collaboration on their own around Eureka Math, with or without formal district support. “We have so much more buy-in this year,” said Carey Laviolette, assistant superintendent of instruction. “We’ve come full circle. They used to get together to solve logistical problems and put out fires. Now they get together to focus on what the math means.” Laviolette also said the two days of training from Great Minds® this summer were very beneficial in helping teachers understand how to pace their lessons: “They saw how they don’t have to stick to the curriculum word for word.”
"They used to get together to solve logistical problems and put out fires. Now they get together to focus on what the math means."
—Carey Laviolette, assistant superintendent of instruction
Vermilion Parish has provided teachers with multiple opportunities to work together: summer training, two or three professional development days a year, and grade-level meetings before each module. Teachers review the modules and exit tickets, work through problem sets, and discuss challenges so that they “understand the math behind each lesson,” said Jeannie Cormier, supervisor of K–8 instruction for Vermilion Parish. All teachers benefited from this extensive module prep last year; this year, Vermilion is focused on helping the five to seven new teachers in each grade, often turning to veteran educators as curriculum guides.
“We are all more successful due to this unprecedented collaboration among the three districts,” said Penny Gennuso, math and science specialist for Lafayette Parish. “Moving from the first year of implementation to the third we have all remained focused on how to best assist teachers with implementation to increase student achievement.”
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Jenny has over a decade of experience in education policy and research. She has worked with states and districts on the development and implementation of college and career readiness policies, especially around the implementation of rigorous standards and high-quality instructional materials. She has extensive knowledge about K–12 standards, graduation requirements, assessments, and accountability systems nationwide. Additionally, she has conducted research for school districts to address pressing needs in those districts. Jenny received her B.A. in English and education from Bucknell University and her M.Ed. in education policy from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education.