The Calculus Project in the Newton Public Schools
“Success in higher-level high school mathematics courses is strongly associated with college enrollment and attainment of an undergraduate degree. Completion of calculus in high school is the strongest predictor of college completion.” (Adelman, 1999, 2006; Harrell & Forney, 2003; Horn & Nunez, 2000).
The Calculus Project is designed to narrow the achievement gap in mathematics by instilling a mindset that attributes success to hard work and resilience, by promoting collaboration among participating students, and by improving the mathematics problem solving skills of African American, Hispanic and low-income students. Our goal is to increase the enrollment of students from these three groups in higher-level math classes at Newton high schools by providing the support necessary for success. Students are invited to the Calculus Project based on academic performance and consultation with teachers.There are two major components to the program:
- Summer Program: In a four-week session the summer before 7th grade and continuing every summer until high school graduation, students preview upcoming mathematics curriculum, learn about STEAM related careers and connect with peers to become a cohort of learners.
- After School Program: Tutoring after school offered twice a week for 7th to 12th graders supports students with class work and homework, and previews upcoming mathematics content.
Both components include the Pride Curriculum, which promotes a growth mindset, counters stereotype threat, and reinforces the value of hard work through articles, movies, and activities.
To enable student collaboration, we assign Calculus Project students to classes in small cohorts during the academic year. This encourages continued peer support and decreases the likelihood that a student will decide to drop to a less challenging class if they feel discouraged.
A Parent's Experience
"Last summer my daughter got invited to participate at The Calculus Project. Of course she wasn't thrilled to spend part of the summer doing math, but we gave her no choice and she had to go. To my surprise once she started she stopped complaining and went every day. She continued with the tutoring during the year and didn't complain when we told her she was going to do it this summer again. The people running the program are doing an amazing job, you can not imagine the difference it has made in her approach to math, it went from profound dislike to being one of her favorite subjects. I'm writing to thank you for giving her the chance, to tell you that the program works and encourage you not only to continue with it but to expand it."Maria Mizrahi, Oak Hill Middle School Parent