Big Jumps Forward in Math and Reading With Exemplars

Educators all over the country know our math materials turn students into capable, confident problem solvers, with improved test scores that prove it. Now the team at the Bronx’s Concourse Village Elementary School (CVES) reveals another benefit: a stronger command of reading and writing, developed in tandem with math skills.

Edutopia visited CVES to learn how this formerly struggling school now excels:

Despite the statistics stacked against them—the school is situated in the poorest congressional district in the nation, and 96 percent of children at CVES are on free and reduced lunch, while 15 percent are homeless — students are now outperforming the averages in both New York State English and math exams by over 40 percent.

Edutopia found “an especially innovative model that reinforces both reading and computational skills” — anchored by Exemplars. At the heart of this model is our Problem Solving Procedure. When CVES teachers guide students through a task, “we ask them to make their thinking visible,” says Alexa Sorden, the school’s founder and principal, “so that their ideas are clearly communicated.” 

In this video, teachers explain — and scholars demonstrate! — how practicing this procedure step by step supports students’ developing literacy skills.

It’s a practice Edutopia calls “game-changing.” And it’s had a stunning payoff: In 2018, 88% of CVES students scored advanced or proficient on the New York State exams in both math and English Language Arts — more than 40 percent higher than the citywide averages.

That’s an exciting leap forward for a school that used to struggle, especially in light of where things stood at its opening in 2013:

“When we arrived, we found a major deficit across all content areas,” said Sorden, who was particularly alarmed by the reading scores. “The first year was challenging because we were trying to come up with a plan and say, ‘OK, how are we going to make sure that all the children are reading on grade level so that they’re prepared?’”

They chose Exemplars Math, and their students soared. We’re thrilled to help them succeed.

Read more:

A Game-Changing Practice Fuses Math and LiteracyEdutopia, May 7, 2019