Mathematics Successes at Pocahontas County High School

Today, as part of our continuing series on the academic successes at the Pocahontas County Schools as reflected in the scores received in last spring’s state General Summative Assessment Test, we will focus on Pocahontas County High School. We start off by asking PCHS Principal Joe Riley to talk about those test scores.

“I am real excited about the tests scores here at Pocahontas County High School from the General  Summative Assessment taken last spring” said Principal Riley. “We only tested the Juniors because that was the only class that the state wanted us to test, but when we got those scores back, the Math did super well. Our 11th graders scored number one in the state in Math. We’re excited about that. Our English Language Arts, although we are not at the top of the state, it’s definitely showing in the data that when you compare it over the last three years at the high school, we can see that they are definitely making gains every year. So we’re really excited about both those scores. We also tested the Sophmores in science, and we’re excited about what the sophomores did. The teachers will explain about what they actually did and what they actually saw, but once again, I feel like we can be proud of our scores and we can show gains coming along.”

To dig a little deeper into the reasons for these Math successes, we talked with Mr. Christopher Sutton, head of the Math Department at the school.  We asked him for the reasons Behind these math successes.

“It’s really, really, hard to nail down one thing that we can say would be the key to the success that we’ve seen our students show” said Mr. Sutton. “It doesn’t feel like we are doing anything a whole lot different because every year we add something a little bit new. Unless you actually sit down and you break it down and say ‘OK, what were we not doing eitht years ago that we’re doing now?’  I think one of the big things is the way that we have the students talking to each other about Math, being able to sort of put themselves in that teacher role, to actually, you Know, ‘once I’ve learned this concept, now I’m going to teach it to somebody.’ The way that we do more of ‘Discovery Mathematics’ , where they’re discovering how to do math problems themselves as opposed to ‘I’m going to be the teacher and I’m gonna lecture on how to do this problem and then you’re then you’re going to do thirty problems like it.’ They’re taking on that more Mathematician type role.. .’I’m going to figure out how to do it. So they kind of own it and if they figured it out it sticks longer in their brain and then they start teaching other students about it and it sticks even longer. Like I said, there’s not really one thing that we’ve done that actually gave us all this success. It’s just a bunch of little different ideas and also the planning that we’ve done for each lesson that we’ve had. If we didn’t like a certain lesson that we got out of this one set of materials, we’d look somewhere else and try to make it where it was more co nducive to learning, something that would be better. And Joanne (Math Coach Joanna Bert-Kinderman) has been a tremendous help in helping us find that lesson, kind of helps us fill that void to really go out and look for that material, and that’s been a tremendous help there.”

Keep listening to Allegheny Mountain Radio for the next part of this story where we talk with English Language Arts teachers Stephanie Poppe and Samara Mann, as well as a couple of exceptional ELA students at Pocahontas County High School to learn more about why there has been such an improvement in the ELA test scores in addition to this Math success story.

Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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