NSF Awards: 1102729
2015 (see original presentation & discussion)
Grades 9-12
Meet a school that has adopted the PERC Program. Hear how classroom instruction has changed, what teachers are doing differently. See the PERC classroom and hear from a student about being a TAS. Meet a principal who talks about how empowering middle performing students to become peer leaders and scholars changes the school and the students. This video presents a brief snapshot of the implementation of the Peer Enabled Restructured Classroom (PERC) in the school. Meet a middle performing students who chose to become Teaching Assistant Scholars (TAS) and became inspired to become a leader and scholar. See research data that demonstrate that TAS are almost three times as likely as a matched group of students to become college ready and that 9th graders in the PERC classrooms are almost twice as likely to pass state tests at the end of the 9th grade. Teens Teaching and Leading shows us the impact of PERC – on outcomes and lives.
Eileen Lee
Pamela,
This video did the job and your program sounds amazing. Is there a way I could access resources you have for “training” your TAS students in leadership and teaching? I will be working this summer with a group of disadvantaged, high-performing hs juniors and seniors on precalc and calc and think I could infuse some of the leadership training in with the mathematics. I already intended to allocate some time into their development as peer tutors, but your program takes tutoring to a new level.
Thank you!
Eileen Lee
Boston University
Randy Kochevar
Senior Research Scientist
What an inspirational program! I’d love to hear more about the relative benefits to the TAS and to the students they are working with. It sounds like both groups benefit – I would like to hear more about where you see the greatest impacts.
Pamela Mills
PI, Professor of Chemistry
We are working on two papers — one of the benefits to PERC students and the other to TAS students on state mandated tests that determine eligibility to CUNY senior colleges. Roughly TAS are 2-3 times more likely to be “college ready” than comparable counterparts and PERC students are twice as likely to pass required state tests. These are big numbers. We know/believe there are other impacts but have been focusing on collecting data to compare groups of students.
Ben Sayler
Professor of Physical Science and Mathematics
Phenomenal! I’m very curious to learn more. One question that pops immediately to mind is why do you recruit primarily “middle-performing” students as teaching assistants? Do you find them to be better suited to the TAS role than high-performing students? Also, do you have an abundance of students wanting a TAS role. If so, do you end up selecting a relatively small proportion from a large pool?
Pamela Mills
PI, Professor of Chemistry
It is partly a question of capacity. I would say that we don’t know if middle performing and high performing students are different in terms of teaching/tutoring skills. But I would flip it — we usually think that only outstanding performing students can tutor/teach! What we are seeing and showing is that middle performing students can excel when they are entrusted with teaching. Then it is a question of capacity — schools have many more middle performing students than high performing. The bottom line is that middle performing students can in fact learn to teach and lead! And be very effective as teachers.
In terms of number of TAS, we work primarily in small schools in NYC 600-1000 students, 9-12. In a school of 600 students about half will be TAS — and there is very little selectivity.
Ben Sayler
Professor of Physical Science and Mathematics
Intriguing. On the question of middle performing vs. high performing students, it occurs to me that those in the middle range have more experience with struggling with a concept — and that might help them as teachers. With faculty members it sometimes seems that the very, very bright don’t have much empathy for students who struggle. Important caveat: I have absolutely NO data to support this. I just offer it as food for thought – and perhaps to get others to weigh in!
Pamela Mills
PI, Professor of Chemistry
Ben, we completely agree and think this is one of those beliefs that haven’t been tested. We think that we are demonstrating that middle students CAN tutor and teach with guidance. We certainly have anecdotal evidence of the valedictorian failing as a tutor but the struggling student being an extraordinary TAS. We would like to show to all those who believe that only the best students can teach/tutor that the middle is a big group of students to be tapped. Whether they are better than higher performing students — no idea! Might actually be some uncorrelated or leaning towards the middle performing side.
Ben Sayler
Professor of Physical Science and Mathematics
Fascinating idea to test!
Jackie DeLisi
Research Scientist
Interesting program, and I really like how you showed the teachers, student, and TAS perspective, as well as a principal. I wonder how you got principals and the teachers of the older grades to agree to this program— how does a school manage the logistics of scheduling a program like this? What challenges do schools face in implementing a model like this?
Ben Sayler
Professor of Physical Science and Mathematics
Excellent questions Jackie — I’m similarly interested in those logistical issues.
I also know that in my town, many motivated high school students have trouble finding time for all the courses they want to take. Has it been an issue for the TAS students to find time for their participation in the program? Do they get compensated at all?
Pamela Mills
PI, Professor of Chemistry
The singlest biggest challenge for a school is scheduling or programming the teachers and TAS. This is the deal-breaker hurdle. Some schools have specific missions that require many additional electives and just can’t fit the program into their schedule. Here’s the model: 10th graders are programmed into two courses — a TAS courses and a PERC course. The TAS course may count as science or math elective credit. In many schools the TAS don’t take geometry in 10th grade but take it in the summer or the 11th grade. Since most TAS are middle performing we know that they are unlikely to succeed in geometry. We find the students do better in geometry once they have performed at the “college level” in 9th grade algebra and so the slow down supports student performance in the long run. The biggest hurdle for schools is accepting that there is no reason to keep students on the math track to pre-calc when they aren’t succeeding. For students who figure it out and what to get through more math, students work with College Now (one of our partners) to take college courses at CUNY.
Justine Henning
Congratulations! Math4Science is glad to be connected with you, Pam Mills, and to have had the opportunity to visit last summer’s PERC classrooms.
Further posting is closed as the event has ended.