High rates of exam failure in Montgomery lead to action plans, school by school

Each of Montgomery County’s 25 high schools has created an action plan to identify and support students who need help in math, as part of an effort designed to boost student success overall and improve grades on final exams.

The initiative follows widespread concern in Montgomery about high rates of failing grades on high school final exams. Figures came to light in the spring showing a majority of 30,000 students taking exams in seven math courses did not pass the end-of-semester test.

Christopher Garran, associate superintendent for high schools, said that in creating action plans each of the county’s high schools has examined data and specifically “named names” of students who need support.

Schools provide assistance in a variety of ways: lunchtime tutoring, after-school help, Saturday school. In some cases, students who excel in math may provide one-on-one sessions with struggling students; mostly, teachers do.

The idea is to be more proactive and anticipate students’ needs, “not to wait until they fail,” Garran said. The effort may involve a couple thousand students, he said.

Each high school’s action plan may change over time: Some students may no longer need help, for example, or one form of support may work better than another.

Students are urged to take advantage of help offered, but they are not forced to participate. “You don’t want it to be seen as a penalty,” he said.

The attention on student intervention comes as a math work group is also meeting in Montgomery to examine causes of widespread failure.

Donna St. George writes about education, with an emphasis on Montgomery County schools.
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