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California Distinguished School

Model Program/Practice Description


Ralston holds a tradition of high achievement with approximately 70% or more students meeting or exceeding proficiency on their state standardized tests.  With academic excellence being our most prized attribute, we are committed to the vision of providing our middle school students with pathways to excel in high school.  All students are held to high standards of learning  in order to prepare them for life, college, and career in a world that is increasingly challenging.


The majority of Ralston students are high performing, demonstrating the need for us to build on student strengths and provide cutting edge learning experiences.  Our model Math program includes Advanced Standing, Common Core, Support, and RSP Math classes to support all learners.  Advanced Standing courses are designed to meet the needs of our most advanced students who are able to persevere through accelerated coursework, preparing our students for the rigors of Advanced Placement courses in high school.  Common Core Math classes provide instruction for students to attain a deep, authentic command of mathematical concepts, preparing students for the rigor of high school coursework.  Math support courses are offered in addition to core math classes.  These classes are designed to increase universal access and to scaffold core content.  In addition, a Study Skills elective is offered as part of our system of tiered intervention to provide academic support as needed.  Additionally, we provide students in RSP Math to learn in a small group setting with a resource specialist.  At Ralston, our strong gains in math performance are largely due to our approach to scheduling students; we place them in the appropriate course, and we allow for fluidity of placement depending on the academic needs of the individual child.


The Ralston Math Department has established research-based practices of utilizing formative and summative assessments to inform instruction and placement. Various Math course section offerings are created based upon assessment results.  Students are provided many opportunities for advancement into higher level Math classes on an on-going basis through systematic formative and summative assessments. Equally important are the high expectations set for all students, ensuring rigor in all classes and providing numerous avenues of support.


The vision of our model program is aligned with the district LCAP, in particular with “Goal 1:  Common core and NGSS standards will be implemented through a broad course of study that includes all subject areas to promote academic proficiency.  Performance will increase in the following areas: standardized tests,  and share of pupils that are college and career ready.”  In BRSSD and at Ralston, we strive for success for all students, so our model program provides a clear sequence and multiple on-ramps for students to be successful.




Model Program Practice/Implementation and Monitoring


Ralston teachers are committed to a collaborative inquiry approach to instruction. The foundation of collaborative inquiry is our common assessments.   Ralston’s Math Department collaborates on a weekly basis around common assessments such as the Mathematics Assessment Collaborative (MAC) test, Step Two basic skills test, and UC Berkeley's Mathematics Diagnostic Testing Project (MDTP) test.  Teachers also collaborate on an on-going basis around common quarterly and mid-term benchmark tests.  The MDTP is conducted multiple times in the school year and is used both as a formative and summative tool.  Due to this process, students have multiple opportunities during a given school year to fluidly move to and from one Math course to another.  Consistent collaboration around common assessments also allows for fluid movement in and out of additional Math support or study skills classes.


Teachers are engaged in aligned professional development.  Ralston participates in the Silicon Valley Math Initiative which entitles our site access to a large library of resources including performance tasks and Problems of the Month (POM).  Our teachers are also provided professional development opportunities, curriculum,instructional tools, summative and formative assessments. Ralston’s Math teachers aim to provide an accessible, yet challenging, curriculum that prepares students to become critical thinkers. Each lesson is built to teach soft skills, including how to think critically, communicate efficiently, and work effectively in groups. Teachers stress that these values and skills are key to success in high school, college, career, and beyond. Ralston Math teachers use resources from the Silicon Valley Math Initiative (SVMI), like MARS tasks and Formative Assessment Lessons, to ensure every student has access to the core content being covered and more advanced students can delve deeper into problem sets.  Teachers and the Principal continue to attend monthly SVMI professional development networking meetings to discuss classroom issues, collaborate with teachers from other districts, and enhance their SVMI toolkit of resources.


A critical factor  to support the model Math program was prioritizing staff collaboration time. Regular departmental meetings are scheduled for teachers to collaborate and plan lessons together. In addition, the master schedule has been designed  to ensure that grade-level teams have the same preparation period.  This change in the master schedule allow teachers time during the day to align and collaborate.




Model Program/Practice Results and Outcomes


Our goal with implementing the model Math program was to  increase student achievement and prepare students for the challenging work ahead of them.  Not only has our ALL student group performed in the blue/green for two consecutive years for ELA and Math, our most recent data indicate that every student group with 30+ students made gains in 2018.  The Math SBAC data shows that within student groups there has been an increase of performance achievement. All students scored 67.8 points above standard in SBAC Math,  which is an increase of 16.1 points.  English Learners scored 18.4 points above standard with their SBAC Math, which is an increase of 16.9 points.  Socioeconomically disadvantaged students scored 24.7 points below standard,  but had an increase of 12.9 points. Students with Disabilities scored 37.2 points below standard, an increase of 20.3 points. African American student group performed 5.2 points below the standard but their scores increased 51.5 points from the previous year. These indicators reveal that we are making great progress towards having all students perform at or above standard.


Currently, we offer three Geometry sections and five Algebra sections which includes both 7th and 8th grade students.  We offer three Advanced Standing Math classes in each of the 6th and 7th grades and ten Common Core Math classes in each 6th and 7th grade levels. We offer one RSP Math class in each grade level.  The diversity of of Math courses offered is dependent each year upon the student needs and interests.  Opportunities to go into more depth and differentiation are also provided  in the Common Core Math classes.  Additionally, we collaborate with the local high school to inform our practices and provide relevant opportunities for professional learning.


With the collaborative work around common assessments, there is a cohesive school culture working towards a shared vision.  There is a shared expectation among all in the school community in which all students are supported and empowered to reach their maximum potential.   The school community has truly embraced the idea of preparing each and every student for college and career readiness in the 21st century.