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Sun, Oct. 20

Mayer elementary kids improve math scores, win awards

Fourth-grade teacher Grant Hendrikse, left, and first/second grade teacher Lauren Merfeld show off Mayer Elementary School's MAC-Ro awards. The school's third-graders earned the 2009 Outstanding Achievement Award and second-graders earned the Continued Excellent Achievement Award - both for improved math scores.<br>
Courtesy Photo

Fourth-grade teacher Grant Hendrikse, left, and first/second grade teacher Lauren Merfeld show off Mayer Elementary School's MAC-Ro awards. The school's third-graders earned the 2009 Outstanding Achievement Award and second-graders earned the Continued Excellent Achievement Award - both for improved math scores.<br> Courtesy Photo

This past year's third-grade class at Mayer Elementary School won an Outstanding Achievement award for improved math scores, and the second-grade class received the Continued Excellent Achievement award for the second year in a row.

Since the school initiated the MAC-Ro math program three years ago, the third-graders have improved their math test scores by 25 percent, said Patti Leonard, MES principal.

"I'm so excited," Leonard said. "Scores have increased to 87 percent (passing) on AIMS."

The Math Achievement Club by Rodel is an initiative of the Rodel Charitable Foundation of Arizona.

During the school year, students receive a booklet every month with a variety of math problems, puzzles, and games intended to reinforce grade level skills based on the Arizona math standards.

The expectation is for the students to complete three to four mini-lessons a week as homework. Teachers keep track of students' work with charts and stickers, and go over the work to see if students understand the concepts.

One piece of the program is having students work on math at home with their parents, and get the parents involved in learning math together.

"Having the family connection has been great also," Leonard said. "This program does make a difference."

The school plans a MAC-Ro Night kickoff for parents later in September, she added.

Grant Hendrikse taught third grade this past year and "loops" to fourth grade this year, with many of the same students.

"I challenged these students every single day of the year and they responded day in and day out by learning everything that was taught," Hendrikse said about his third-graders.

"Last year we got to the point where they wanted to be challenged so badly every day that they actually would get mad at me if the day's math lessons were too easy. I actually had to start teaching my third-graders fifth- and sixth-grade standards to keep them happy and challenged," he said.

Hendrikse developed math assignments to meet the needs of every student. This resulted in late nights putting together his lessons for the next day.

"I cannot even begin to say how proud of these kids I am. Each and every one them worked extremely hard to achieve what they did," he said.

The MAC-Ro website states that schools participating in the program in 2004-2005 saw gains of 22.8 points in just one year compared to a statewide gain of 12 points.

Hendrikse said Merfeld also creates many assignments for her students, and it shows with how well her students perform. Merfeld indicated that parent involvement was a big help in achieving higher math scores.

Leonard is very proud of what the teachers and students have accomplished, especially when compared to other districts' achievements.

"When they call out 'Mayer' and you're sitting there with people from Pendergast and Mesa districts, you're elated," she said about the award ceremony.

This is also the first year the school offers MAC-Ro to the first- and fourth-grade classes.

Merfeld is teaching a first-second grade combined class this year, and Hendrikse moves up to teach the fourth-graders.

"I'm anxious to see test scores for fourth-graders this year," Leonard said.

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