Math Mastery Takes ‘Individualized Approach’ to Help Students Catch Up

At the beginning of second semester, students struggling in Algebra I Enhanced classes were put into a newly formed Math Mastery class, also known as Algebra Readiness or Math Lab.

Eighteen students were removed from their previous classes to join Math Mastery based on students’ skill levels and recommendations from the Math Department and counselors.

“We started realizing students coming into high school did not have the sufficient skills for Algebra I,” Math Mastery teacher Laraine Ignacio said. “We didn’t want to set students up for failure.”

The course allows students to build their basic math skills in order to be prepared to enter Algebra I. The curriculum includes number lines, order of operations, percentages, fractions and decimals.

According to math teacher Carol Evans, Math Mastery takes an “individualized approach,” allowing students to focus on their personal trouble areas.

“They teach you slower, so you understand more than [in] other classes,” freshman Tawny Peel said. “It’s a good class for kids that need help [in math]. They should speak up and talk to their teachers.”

Students often work in smaller groups with tutors and peers at the same level, encouraging students to progress at the rate in which they feel comfortable with.

“We created Math Mastery so students really struggling at Algebra I can succeed,” Evans said. “[It’s] whatever you need to be successful at your own level.”

Grading is based on the progress each individual makes on the specific curriculum he or she is learning.

“It’s not that they don’t try or they’re stupid or don’t care about what they’re doing,” math tutor senior Lisa Kellman said. “They just fell behind.”

Students currently enrolled in Math Mastery will only be receiving high school elective credit for the course, but they are set on track in order to receive enough math credit to graduate or even meet University of California credit requirements.

According to Ignacio, since Math Mastery is still in “trial stages,” its survival will depend on the success of this semester’s students.

Students recently retook the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test they had taken in the beginning of first semester to reassess their progress in math since then.