A program for ninth grade students struggling with math and developed by Wayzata High School teachers Kristen Addonizio and Nicole Jockisch, won the Star of Innovation Award from the Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals.
The program, which started four years ago, takes selected ninth-grade students into a special math class that has the same curriculum as their peers, but extends the material throughout the entire school year and has two teachers in the classroom instead of just one. Students’ scores in eighth grade on the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) MAP test determine admittance into the class.
The success of the new program has lowered the failure rate in math of incoming ninth grade students from 10 percent down to just over three percent. This year’s seniors are the first students to take the class as ninth graders and represent the largest graduating senior class in Wayzata High School’s history. According to WHS Senior Class Principal Jeff Ridlehoover, “This current year of seniors were not our largest class we’ve ever had as ninth graders, but they are the largest class we’ve ever had as graduating seniors.” He added that the school has retained students better than ever before and fewer students have left potentially because they’re finding a lot of success early in their high school career and particularly in math.
Ridlehoover, Jockisch and Addonizio spoke last summer at the NWEA conference in Portland, Oregon about the math program because of its success. Ridlehoover is also meeting with other schools to replicate this program elsewhere.