South LA elementary schools get blended learning boost from donors and community

Lauren Williams's picture
Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The nonprofit MIND Research Institute and Los Angeles Unified School District on Wednesday announced a public-private partnership to invest in a proven, research-based blended learning math program for elementary students in one of the most impoverished parts of Los Angeles. The launch of the South LA Community Math Project was celebrated at 96th Street Elementary School.

With funding from donors, schools and MIND Research, the South LA Community Math Project will provide grants to approximately 20 high-need schools in the area to implement MIND Research’s blended learning ST Math program, which includes instructional software, teacher training and year-round educational support. Research by the University of California, Irvine’s Greg Duncan shows that early math skills are the number one predictor of later academic success, high school graduation rates and college matriculation. By focusing on math skills, the partners hope to dramatically improve the future prospects for South LA children, and establish the foundation for careers in high-demand science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

“MIND Research Institute’s ST Math program has already proven effective at improving students’ math performance in LAUSD,” said Robert “Bob” Bravo, Instructional Area Superintendent, Los Angeles Unified School District. “We’re excited to launch this new partnership to attract greater community and donor support for math education our South LA schools.” ST Math is used by more than 80,000 students in Los Angeles County, many funded by philanthropy and MIND Research grants – including 11 Partnership for Los Angeles Schools. Earlier this year, the independent third-party education research firm WestEd published a study verifying that 45 LAUSD schools using the program saw nearly twice the growth in math proficiency compared to others. ST Math’s “effect size” on test scores was found to be well beyond what the Federal What Works Clearinghouse has deemed “substantively important.”

“We’re committed to ensuring that all children are mathematically equipped to solve the world’s most challenging problems,” said Matthew Peterson, Ph.D., co-founder and chief operating officer of MIND Research Institute. “What better place to work on that mission than South LA, which has its share of challenges as well as tremendous hope and promise for the future.”

MIND’s ST Math program provides visual, computer-based math games that support deep understanding of concepts covered by California math standards at each grade level. Because the program doesn’t rely on language proficiency or prior math proficiency, it’s accessible for English Language Learners and children with learning disabilities. Students use ST Math for 45 minutes on the computer, twice a week under their teacher’s supervision, in a blended learning environment. The teachers are trained on how to connect the visual puzzles to their conventional symbolic texts, and coached on how to guide children through challenging sections by getting them to express their thinking, rather than simply showing them the solution.

About MIND Research Institute

MIND Research Institute is an education nonprofit dedicated to ensuring that all students are mathematically equipped to solve the world’s most challenging problems. MIND’s distinctive visual approach to math and problem-solving is the basis of its innovative, research-proven ST Math® programs for elementary and secondary schools. MIND’s programs currently reach over 500,000 students and 21,000 teachers in more than 1,780 schools in 30 states. For more information, visit www.mindresearch.net.