By MATTHEW MEYER | Reporter
Palisades Charter High School moved to improve academic outcomes and renew a sense of trust in the school’s math department this week, holding the first meeting of a newly created Math Success Task Force.
After receiving low marks from students and guardians on annual surveys and hearing from concerned parents at school board meetings, principal Dr. Pam Magee announced the task force at the January Board of Trustees meeting.
It will include math teachers and department heads, administrators, parents, and input from students, she said: “A good representation that can really help us figure out what’s working and what needs to improve.”
The group will start by organizing and analyzing the masses of achievement data and feedback the school has collected before using it to identify best practices and set future goals.
“We’re gathering all of this information together to develop an action plan for next year,” Magee said. “[Figuring] out our protocol for how we’re going to move forward.”
The committee will also incorporate the paraprofessional aides who have been on hand to answer questions and aid students in some Pali math classrooms in recent years.
Adding the aides to challenging courses is one move in a series that the school has already made to respond to concerns about math achievement and the quality of instruction.
Pali High has also invested in department training, made outreach efforts for its Math Lab and Study Center (particularly to students of color), and devoted funds to reducing class sizes in key courses such as Algebra 1.
The task force, which met for the first time on Tuesday, Jan. 30, joins the list after a December board meeting that saw multiple parent speakers voice concerns largely centered around a geometry teacher who had months-long absences from school.
The parents were careful to voice their pleasure with other Pali teachers, however, including those within the math department.
Math has stood out as a consistent sore spot for parents on annual surveys Pali conducts with Columbia University.
The surveys record generally high marks for the school across the board, creating a greater contrast for lower metrics and negative short answer responses. The surveys have also revealed that a significant percentage of students rely on outside tutoring or online services to grasp math material.
Magee suggested the parent-members of the Success Task Force have already taken an active role, requesting particular data sets to analyze upon their first meeting.
Plans for further action and the task force’s ultimate influence remain to be seen.
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