Whitman Middle School

Middle School


Math at Whitman MS

Our math vision includes:

  • Rigor – setting high expectations for all students
  • Support – providing multiple opportunities for struggling students to get help and to have the time to reach mastery
  • Communication – developing strong, positive connections with families in an effort to reach every student
  • Mastery with Excellence – gaining confidence through demonstrating proficiency while “having fun” while learning math!

What is Math?

  • Math is a language of numbers and symbols, logic and critical thinking, and problem solving.
  • Students should always be reading “just right” books, and students should always be doing “just right” math.

How to Succeed as Parents and Guardians

  • “Trust, but verify” when it comes to completing homework and how your student is doing in class.
  • Have student’s show you the work we are doing in the Student Edition ( it’s both textbook and workbook) and their Math Journal.
  • Learn how to use Schoology, The Source, and other on-line ways teachers communicate with families instead of relying on only email.

How to Succeed as Students

  • Take notes in class and do the practice problems.
  • Ask questions!
  • Expect homework each day and do the homework so you practice and learn.
  • If you are absent you still need to learn what you missed and do any assignments, ask your teacher how to get “caught-up”.

Whitman Goals

By Spring 2020, all student sub-groups will increase their English Language Arts and Mathematics Smarter Balanced Assessment scores with a schoolwide achievement increase of 10%, compared to each sub-group’s achievement score for the previous year.

Methods to meet goal:

  • Differentiated Instruction
  • Standards Aligned Assessments and Units Data driven instruction
  • Early prevention and intervention Ongoing staff development
  • Clear progress communication with families

All grades and sub-groups will have at least 70% of students making typical or high growth.

Methods to meet goal:

  • Differentiated Instruction
  • Standards Aligned Assessments and Units
  • Data driven instruction
  • Early prevention and intervention
  • Ongoing staff development
  • Clear progress communication with families
  • Achievement compares to a minimum standard, your score against the minimum passing score: Level 1, 2, 3, or 4; yields your percentile ranking
  • Growth compares change in your score to the typical (average) change for all other students who had same starting score as you: Low, Typical, or High growth; based on change in your percentile ranking
  • A high achieving student can have low growth; a low achieving student can have high growth
  • Typical or High growth is good, Low growth is bad, no matter the achievement level.

6th Grade Math Placement

  • Exposure vs. Mastery
  • 6th Grade Math on 5th Grade Report Card WMS Grade 6 CCSS Skill Assessment score
  • SBA achievement levels and what they mean about a student’s demonstrated understanding of grade-level math:
    • 4 = Thorough Understanding
    • 3 = Adequate Understanding
    • 2= Partial Understanding
    • 1 = Minimal, little-to-no, Understanding


  • Students will have at least two opportunities to show they have mastered a skill or concept.
  • Re-assessment procedures will look different at different grade levels.
  • The new score always replaces the old score.

Seattle Public School District Math Goals

  • Students of color who are furthest from educational justice will be proficient in mathematics in 5th grade and 7th grade. Measures Used to Evaluate Success:
    • 5th and 7th grade SBA Mathematics proficiency
  • All students will have access to Algebra by 9th Grade. Measures Used to Evaluate Success:
    • 7th grade SBA Mathematics proficiency

Number of students accessing Algebra in 9th grade, and completing it successfully.

More Information about the Math Curriculum

SPS adopted enVisionmath for middle school in 2018. Students can access digital content for enVision through Pearson EasyBridge by using their SPS credentials through the Seattle Public Schools online Student Resources.

The overall philosophy of the Whitman math team is to ensure that all students achieve in math at grade level standards or above, realizing that students take different amount of times to do this. The Whitman system gives students more time, more practice, and more opportunities to master skills not mastered before. Our goal is for each student to have a concrete foundation in math concepts and the ability to broadly apply these concepts.

The enVisionmath curriculum is a balance of inquiry-based and direct instruction designed to provide a variety of learning opportunities to address all types of learning styles and develop a thorough understanding of number patterns rather than just memorizing algorithms. Students who are struggling to meet grade-level standards in math are provided a supplemental class during the school day for extra math support.

Accelerated math placement at Whitman has been an ongoing concern. Experience shows that even if they are recommended by the District for advanced math, students who don’t have a strong foundation in sixth-grade math concepts have difficulties being successful in Whitman’s accelerated math program.

Occasionally, sixth graders placed into accelerated math by district recommendation struggle in Math7 and do not receive teacher recommendations to continue in accelerated math and are now repeating the seventh-grade math curriculum. To try to remedy this, Whitman has placed this year’s sixth-graders into their math classes using a combination of 6th grade skills assessment scores and SBAC scores.

Regardless of math placement, all students could receive more challenging work through enVisionmath “extensions” (which take specific math concepts to a more advanced level) or by teachers providing “next grade level” work for students who are ready.  Parents should consult with their child’s teacher to determine if he/she is ready for this.

Whitman provides the opportunity for students to study, and receive credit for, ninth grade Algebra I.

The Whitman math team and Principal Posten want to be responsive to your math concerns. Please consult with your child’s math teacher with specific questions or feel free to contact Christina Posten for more information.

What does CCSS stand for?

Common Core State Standards. We teach based on the common core standards, as adopted by the Seattle Public School District and State.

How can I request a reference for what my student is learning so I can support her with the method she is taught? I found last year I sometimes used different methods to help her solve that she hadn’t learned.

You can email your child’s teacher to ask which Common Core State Standards they are currently studying and possible resources for additional work. You can also go to the website to look at the Common Core Standards for Mathematics: corestandards.org/Math

It is important to communicate with your child’s teacher since many standards are focused on the process and communication of a concept more than getting the correct final answer. It will be most helpful to your child if you and your child’s teacher have the same instructional objective. Additionally, there are some problem-solving strategies which work in a particular situation but cannot apply to a more complex problem, causing confusion and frustration to students who attempt to continue to use it.

Do students have a choice about whether they take the placement exam?

Do teachers recommend whether students take this exam or not? Is the exam a mandatory requirement no matter what? Students do have a choice about whether to take the placement exam or not. However, students who do not take the placement exam will be placed into their grade level math class the following year. In other words, 7th graders will be placed into 7th grade math and 8th graders into 8th grade math. Teachers may make recommendations, but if you are concerned, it is always a good idea to check in with your child’s teacher in the spring.

What additional support can we provide our 7th grader to get into algebra for 8th grade?

If your 7th grader is in 7th grade math, he/she will not receive instruction on the 8th Grade Common Core Standards, which are also necessary for success in Algebra. You will want to look at those standards (see link above) and have your child work on those concepts. Khanacademy.org is a great resource for lessons on a multitude of mathematical concepts.

What Does CCSS Look Like?

  • More rigor
  • More depth
  • More open-ended questioning Standards shifts
    • For example: Algebra 2 concepts have started to show up in Algebra and some Algebra concepts have moved down to 8th grade math
  • More challenging end of year test (Smarter Balanced Assessment)

What is in the Standards (Academic) Grade?

In-class assessments that help measure a students’ mastery of each of the Standards.

What is NOT part of the Academic Grade?

  • Homework! Although it will be entered into the gradebook by the teacher, it is only recorded as proof of practicing and not accuracy.
  • SBA scores, SPS Benchmark scores, Success Maker Level…