Langston gets help in math with pilot computer program
Feb 15, 2013 (Danville Register & Bee - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Middle school students at J.M. Langston Focus School are getting some help with their math scores through a nationally-renowned program.
The Cisco Foundation, headquartered in Silicon Valley, Calif., has pumped $250,000 into a grant for the educational non-profit MIND Research Institute to help curb achievement gaps in math test scores in 22 Virginia schools.
Langston was selected as one of the pilot schools.
A similar pilot program was launched in other states. According to a news release, in 2011 after the program was instituted in 14 schools in Arizona, students finished with 61 percent math proficiency and closed the achievement gap between the disadvantaged students in the program to the rest of the student population.
The program provides visual computer-based math games that cover concepts by Virginia math testing standards in each grade level. The program doesn't rely on language or previous math proficiency, so it's easier for students with disabilities or language barriers, according to the release.
The research institute have technicians all over the state and Langston Principal Kevin Whitlock said a technician will come down to make sure the program is being done correctly, and so far, things have been going well.
"It's really helping our middle school students prepare for the SOLs," said Whitlock. "... It's a computer based program. Students work on the computer and do diagnostics to build their skills up."
Langston, which is fully accredited, is the city's alternative school and serves a high number of economically disadvantaged students. With the math standards going up this year, school officials wanted to use this new software to help students with the tests. Whitlock said he heard about the program during a statewide meeting last spring. He and Andy Tyrrell, the superintendent of instruction for Danville Public Schools, were impressed with the presentation and Tyrrell worked to acquire the grant funding.
In an email, Tyrrell said "the alignment with the rigor of new mathematic standards was very evident" in the program.
"ST Math is a great compliment to our current mathematic instructional practices, and provides teachers and students an innovative approach to solving multi-step problems represented in Virginia's math assessments," said Tyrrell.
Christine Byrd, a spokesperson for the MIND Research Institute, said test results usually show positive momentum after the first year. Some of the work the institute has done was featured in Forbes magazine and has gained national recognition.
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