Math "I can" PLEASE READ

Parents of Our Math Students,

We are so excited to continue our collaboration with the IRRE, our partner in improving your student’s education at Madison High School.  We have been chosen to participate in the I Can Math Program aimed at graduating more of our students with the skills to succeed in higher education and the work place. I Can Math provides math teachers with specific proven strategies for improving the quality of instruction, student assessment, and learning in the classroom. The program uses benchmarking techniques in addition to new approaches to assessment to drive improvement in both teaching and learning. The program provides your students a great opportunity for growth and success in math.

Our math teachers, in collaboration with teachers from 4 other districts around the area have identified the most important topics in Algebra, Geometry, and Algebra II that will prepare your student for success in future math classes, on the ACT, and in college and future career endeavors.  Each selected topic in each course was then rewritten into an I Can statement and placed in an order that reflects a more natural progression of the math coursework for each subject.  These I Can statements then become the system by which your student is assessed and graded. 

You can expect your student to have homework several nights a week, your student may need to take advantage of our after school math cafe for tutoring, and your student may be scheduling make-up quizzes regularly, but we expect your student to make great strides in math over the next year.  We will be holding our students to high standards of achievement and mastery in math and believe that what we begin this year will not only help our students grow mathematically, but will positively change the way students view math in their lives.  We believe that even if your student enters math this year thinking “I Can’t”, we will help them to realize that they CAN.

We are proud to be partnering with a reform group that has a proven track record for success and student achievement, but our most important partners for student success is you!  Talk to your students about math, ask them lots of questions, and if you have questions or need us for any reason, please do not hesitate to get in touch with your student’s math teacher.  We look forward to working closely with our Madison High School families to guide all our students on their individual paths to academic success.


Guide to Grade Changes in Mathematics at Madison High School

Benchmarking -state standards/benchmarks have been broken down into a series of “I Can” statements, clearly identifying exactly what each student's objectives are for the course. These “I Can” statements will be given to students and parents at the beginning of the semester and will be clearly posted in the classroom for student reference. Benchmark tracking will be recorded in two places: MI STAR (formerly Zangle) teacher grade book and wall chart in each math classroom.


Mastery Grading - Student grades will reflect the mastery of the “I can” statements. Students will demonstrate mastery of an “I Can” statement by scoring at least an 80% on each individual “I Can” Benchmark quiz and passing a second mastery assessment called a Capstone. Benchmark quizzes are small quizzes like what students are used to (5) questions per quiz ranging in difficulty. The Capstone assessment is similar to a unit test; they consist of a number of “I Cans” and contains about (20-25) questions and will have 3-5 questions per “I Can” statement being tested on the assessment.

Some sample “I Can” statements:

Algebra 1: I can solve multi-step problems involving units

Geometry: I can name corresponding sides and angles of two angles.

Algebra 2: I can solve a system of linear equations by graphing

After your student has received appropriate instruction in their “I Can” they will be assessed. Examples of assessments are listed and described below.


Benchmark Assessment:

Corresponds to a single “I Can” statement

  • five questions per “I Can” Statement
  • Three opportunities to show mastery (Form A, B, C). Yes, your student has the chance to retake quizzes and master topics for each “I Can” after they have received extra help from teachers or have visited the Benchmark Cafe for help.

Capstone Assessment:

  • covers multiple “I Can” statements
  • around 20 - 25 questions
  • Capstone may not be retaken, but if a Capstone is not passed with a 70% or better students must retake each previous Benchmark quiz tested on the Capstone to prove double mastery

Double Mastery

For a student to pass an “I Can” each student must prove double mastery by passing 2 separate assessments. If a student does not prove double mastery they will not receive any credit for their “I Can”.

What about homework?

In this new system homework is not graded, nevertheless, homework is checked and given back to students with feedback. Homework is practice and we all know that practice makes perfect, or in this case mastery of “I Cans”. Homework is essential, it is necessary, and a record of completion will be kept, but because we are only grading on mastery of “I Cans”, homework is practice to master “I Cans” not proof of mastery.

Benchmark Café - Is a place where students can get extra help, practice “I Cans”, and opportunities to retake Benchmarks and master “I can” statements before and after school. Think of it as a tutoring center led by a master math teacher from our own math department. Students need to make an appointment with the teacher.

How are grades calculated?

Semester grades are based on cumulative mastery of the total “I Can” statements and the Capstone assessments.

A = 90%-100%     B = 80%-89%     C = 65%-79%     I (Incomplete) = less than 65%

Because of the changes to grading, the “W” from absences that we have had in the past will no longer apply to our math courses.


What will student progress looks like?

Classroom wall chart and student progress reports

  • A slash ( / ) represents partial mastery of “I can” statements
  •  A double slash ( X ) represents double mastery of “I can” statements
  •  Final grade is percent of Xs out of the total possible


What parents can do to help students succeed?

  • Ask students about their math homework; it is assigned practically everyday!
  • Encourage your student to use the after school math café
  •  Utilize Zangle Parent Connect to keep track of your student’s progress
  •  Keep in contact with your student’s teachers
    • Teacher Websites -Teacher Emails
    • Teacher phone extensions
    • Schedule a meeting
  • Check student progress reports

After school tutoring

  • Encourage students to stay for after school tutoring which is available in the Benchmark Café Monday and Wednesday (3:15 - 4:45) & Tuesday and Thursday (3:15 - 4:15)

We look forward to implementing this proven approach to better learning and higher achievement for our students. We know a critical part of that approach is well informed, supportive parents, and we thank you for all your efforts. Please direct any questions to Christian Mueller, Madison High’s School Improvement Facilitator