Students working at white board

Learning at a Higher Level

The goal of Springfield School District (SSD) is for its graduates to enter postsecondary programs ready to achieve without the need for remedial college courses. Furthermore, we want a higher percentage of SSD graduates to successfully complete their postsecondary education within a six-year period. The responsibility of E.T. Richardson Middle School (ETR) is to ensure all students are prepared to participate in the rigorous academic program at the high school level. ETR will accomplish this goal by shifting its focus to mathematics, specifically problem solving.

The goal of our school is for students to be able to solve problems—not only in mathematics but also in the real world. Here at the ETR, we emphasize the connection between problem solving and understanding. In order to solve problems, students need to have an abstract understanding of the mathematics involved in order to reach the end result. We encourage students to speak up about the way they have reached their conclusions regardless of whether they solved the problem or not.

“Problem solving in math also involves communicating with others,” Principal Dan Tracy articulated. “Students need to develop skills such as listening to alternate ideas, sharing their perspective, and incorporating alternate ideas to solving problems.”

Working with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), our faculty has implemented anchor lessons throughout their curriculum. Teachers introduce a problem to students at the beginning of the unit, and will often refer to it throughout the unit as they discuss, explore, and solve the problem with students in various steps. Students may face struggles and obstacles solving the problem on their first try, which is why our mission is to promote second chance learning. Our focus is not on how quickly a student can solve the problem, but if they can comprehend the step-to-step process.

“In order to be prepared for college and career, students need to be able to persevere through challenging problems,” ETR Principal Daniel Tracy states.

Despite shifting its focus to problem solving and mathematics, ETR still remains proactive in working with students in reading and writing. By the time students reach us, they are already excelling at writing mechanics, grammar and basic essay format. Now, teachers are focusing on analytical thinking and writing as we have observed a trend of students struggling with how to support their point with evidence. When a student finishes a piece of writing, we want them to look back and ask themselves if readers will be able to pinpoint their main point and see how the evidence they supplied supports that point.

We are addressing this problem by promoting more independent reading, specifically at home, allowing more classroom time to be spent discussing and crafting a strong paper.

At ETR, we pride ourselves on seeing our students succeed at a higher level. We look forward to guiding your student as they develop problem solving skills and become a stronger writer.