Students across the state of Wisconsin have been immersed in state testing for the past two weeks. And previous scores on these tests known as the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam, or WKCE tests, have earned Lincoln Middle a new honor.
"It was for exemplary middle school for a school that has a relatively high poverty population, but is showing great gains in the state achievement tests that are given each year," said Larry Myhra, Lincoln Middle School principal.
Lincoln was chosen for the award due to the students' outstanding growth in math despite the school's high percentage of students living in poverty.
"We really push high performance learning; can take advanced math classes here," said Myhra. "We also have some interventions for students who are struggling in math, maybe see some special assistance. And we're finding real growth through that model."
Lincoln began this model two years ago. At the beginning of the year, each student is tested to see if they have any weaknesses in mathematics.
"We take that bottom 10% of the students and we set them up for more diagnostic to look at exactly which areas are they deficit in math," said Ruth Baardseth, Lincoln Middle School literacy specialist. "And then we form groups for those students."
The students are pulled from study halls or music class for a period of ten to 12 days where they receive intense instruction on a particular math concept. And then the students are put back into their regular class.
Math teachers say they're noticing these students have a boost in confidence.
"They come back with a little bit more enrichment and experience and just a total understanding of some math concepts that help drive other things that we're moving on to," said Scott Bagniefski, 7th grade math teacher.
But Mr. Bagniefski says there is another factor that is adding to Lincoln's success, and it involves the integration of math concepts in other subjects like science.
"In 7th grade, there is a genetics unit," said Bagniefski. "Well, a lot of probability and statistics go on, and so they know exactly how we teach it in math. And that integration piece just reinforces the learning that happened in math class and now they see it in science. And the importance of it just elevated to a new level. And the retention is just amazing."
So, by adding integrated learning to targeted instruction for students who are struggling, Lincoln has found an equation that equals success.
"We have some strong wealth of expertise in the area of mathematics," said Baardseth. "Our teachers are attending conferences, going online, finding best practices, and we're really focused on research based strategies and practices."