Socorro Independent School District is celebrating another honor, as they have been nationally recognized for a district-wide program that promotes math literacy and builds math comprehension.
SISD’s Math as a Second Language Academy earned a Districts of Distinction honor, an annual recognition created by District Administration magazine to honor school districts that are leading the way with new ideas that work.
This is the second award for the academy. In June, it won the 2017 School of TechXcellence Award awarded by District Administration magazine, HP and Intel, for having an innovative, effective and replicable technology program in math instruction that is contributing to student success.
“We are honored,” said Rachel Sendek, SISD’s instructional officer for elementary mathematics, who co-created the academy in 2015-2016. “But we didn’t do this for awards. We did it because there was a need. Data showed our students were struggling with math language.”
At first, the academy was created to assist teachers who taught Limited English Proficient, bilingual, English as a Second Language and migrant student populations in the Socorro High School feeder area and at Desert Wind School. By 2016-2017, the program evolved to include all feeder areas and teachers in the district.
“The program was working well and teachers were telling us they really liked it,” said Rod Portillo, an instructional officer for secondary mathematics, who worked with Sendek to create the program. “So, we decided last year to expand it districtwide.”
The math/language academy, designed for third to 12th grade students, implements reading, writing, vocabulary and technological strategies into math curriculum to assist teachers. Students and teachers use tablets and Chromebooks to work on math-related vocabulary comprehension before tackling actual problems. Digital devices also are used for practice work.
Since the initiative began, there has been an 8 percent increase in district math benchmarks for grades three to 12. The scores of elementary students alone have recorded an increase of 18 percent.
For its upcoming third year, Team SISD will work on structuring and targeting the program. Sendek and Portillo continue to be invited to various conferences across the country to introduce the academy, they said.
“There is a big problem nationwide with math literacy,” Portillo said. “Whenever we go to a conference to present the academy, our sessions are usually packed with teachers. Getting these awards is an honor. It validates that there is a need for it.”
More importantly, the program helps SISD teachers and gets students a step closer to being college and career ready.
“Our job is to help our teachers with strategies so they can make our students successful,” Sendek said. “The best award is seeing our students become successful. These recognitions are just a bonus.”
To read more about the national recognition, click here.