Virginia schools triple growth in math scores using ST Math blended learning program

Lauren Williams's picture
Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Virginia schools that implemented the game-based ST Math blended learning program in 2012-13 experienced triple the growth rate in math scale scores on the Virginia Standards of Learning tests, compared to other similar schools. Schools serving low-income, high-needs students across Virginia piloted ST Math last year thanks to a partnership between the Cisco Foundation, the Virginia Department of Education and the nonprofit MIND Research Institute.

“While our students love JiJi the penguin, we knew they were learning math concepts and building important problem solving skills in the process,” said Scott Brabrand, Superintendent of Lynchburg City Schools, referring to the animated penguin featured in the ST Math games. “Now we see the proof with significantly improved test scores.” Virginia schools that piloted ST Math in 2012-13 increased 11 points in grade-average scale scores on the Virginia SOL, compared to a 3.4 point increase in grade-average scale scores at similar Virginia schools not using the ST Math program. (See details here.)

The Virginia ST Math pilot program was made possible by $250,000 grant from the Cisco Foundation to MIND Research. The Cisco Foundation previously supported a pilot program in Arizona, where high-needs schools nearly doubled their math proficiency.

“The Cisco Foundation is committed to supporting technology-based solutions that improve education, and MIND Research Institute continues to be an outstanding partner in this regard,” said Peter Tavernise, Executive Director of the Cisco Foundation. “We’re excited to see the early results of our partnership to help improve the classroom performance of students in Virginia and believe we’re building the foundation for their continued success in school and careers.”

In piloting ST Math, schools follow a blended learning model where students spend school time each week using ST Math software on computers or tablets, learning math concepts at their own pace through visual puzzles. Teachers, who receive professional development from MIND Research, then connect the concepts presented in the ST Math games to their traditional classroom math lessons. Throughout the year, MIND Research provides educational support to teachers and administrators.

“We’re grateful to both Cisco and the Virginia Department of Education for embracing the ST Math program, believing that all students are capable of succeeding in math, and committing to giving them the tools to excel,” said Andrew R. Coulson, Chief Strategist for MIND Research. “This is our first study using Virginia’s rigorous Standards of Learning math test. So we are very pleased to add Virginia’s positive results, generated by dedicated teachers and excited students, to the long line of school systems across the U.S. who have shown the potential of this powerful visual program.”

Only those grades where students completed, on average, at least half of the ST Math curriculum were included in the analysis. Of the nine Virginia schools analyzed, eight were Lynchburg City Schools: Dearington, Heritage, Linkhorne, T.C. Miller, Paul Munro, Perrymont, Sandusky and Sheffield elementaries.

Earlier this year, the third-party education research firm WestEd evaluated the impact of the ST Math program at 45 high-need schools in Los Angeles Unified School District that used ST Math through a philanthropically funded initiative. WestEd found that those using ST Math nearly doubled their growth in math proficiency on state scores, and had an “effect size” of 0.41 – well beyond the Federal What Works Clearinghouse criteria for “substantively important” effect.

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.