An advanced math class at Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School has tackled a new challenge added to the program this year: taking the same midterm exam that is given to high school students.
Timothy Enos, a BDJMS math teacher, said the advanced program was developed for students who test well on the Connecticut Mastery Test and Measures of Academic Progress test. It began in the 2011-2012 school year with a seventh grade pre-algebra class and eighth grade algebra class, making this year’s eighth graders the first to proceed through the whole program.
“These kids are all 10th grade-plus already,” said Enos. “These are very, very bright kids.”
To put the test together, Enos coordinated with Damaris Zimbelman, an algebra and geometry teacher at the Science and Technology Magnet High School. Enos said Zimbelman was setting up her own algebra and honors algebra midterms and that the advanced class took an exam on par with the STMHS Algebra I class, with some modifications meant to help students prepare for the CMT.
The algebra midterm covered a number of topics including simplifying expressions, patterns, equations and inequalities, functions, domain and range, and application problems related to each topic. Preparation for the test not only covered these topics but how best to study for the two-hour exam.
“The only thing they didn’t get was they didn’t get to go home early,” said Enos. “They weren’t happy about that.”
The maximum class size is 28 students, and the advanced class this year has 27. One student was identified through test scores as being one class ahead of schedule and is currently attending BDJMS while also taking Algebra II and physics at STMHS.
Enos said the common core curriculum at BDJMS was rewritten last year, with math programs having a focus on the application of mathematics as well as problem solving methods. He said one goal of the advanced class is to help students enter Advanced Placement classes faster to earn college credits.
Enos said students in the advanced class also have multiple options for proceeding to high school, including Grasso Tech and the Marine Science Magnet High School, but that the district tries to keep their sights set on the local option. He said most of the students in the class have applied for STMHS.