Math Scores Soar at Tennessee High School
Math Design Collaborative builds students' confidence -- and their achievement soars

Blog post

August, 2014 – In Mt. Pleasant, Tennessee, teachers changed the way they taught math — and test scores climbed. Teachers transformed their classrooms with better assignments through the Mathematics Design Collaborative framework and say students are engaged and learning more. 

The MDC shift led to dramatic increases in student achievement on Tennessee High School End-of-Course exam scores, according to Mt. Pleasant High School Principal John Gunn. The percentages of students scoring at the Proficient and Advanced levels increased over 40 percentage points from 2011 to 2014 in Algebra 1, Algebra II and biology.

The Southern Regional Education Board recognized Mt. Pleasant High of the Maury County Public Schools district with a special award for outstanding student achievement increases in mathematics and biology. The school has participated in SREB’s High Schools That Work (HSTW) school improvement initiative since 2010, including SREB training and coaching in the MDC and Literacy Design Collaborative frameworks.

“We credit the HSTW Key Practices with helping us achieve all that we have thus far,” said Gunn.

SREB Senior Vice President Gene Bottoms said the growth at Mt. Pleasant is possible when supportive principals provide teachers with at least eight days of staff development over two years, followed by expert coaching. 

“MDC shifts teaching to help kids understand complex math concepts and solve problems in real-world situations,” said Bottoms. “Math becomes fun for students; their confidence grows, and their math achievement soars.” 

SREB presented the award to Mt. Pleasant at the High Schools That Work Staff Development Conference of more than 5,000 educators in Nashville in July 2014. The school’s teachers and administrators shared their experiences at the closing ceremony of SREB’s College- and Career-Readiness Standards Networking Conference. Mt. Pleasant math teachers are featured in a forthcoming SREB publication highlighting schools that have raised student achievement using the Mathematics Design Collaborative and Literacy Design Collaborative teaching frameworks.