Dramatic improvement in math scores by elementary-school students who received help from special intervention teachers is proof the new program has great promise in Kentucky.
That can be said with confidence because the gains seen in three local schools are so great. Kindergarten and first-grade students at Sutton, Estes and Cravens Elementary schools who received the help were outperforming their peers within one year, and some showed two years of growth in math skills in a single year.
This is even more dramatic considering that the students selected for the interventional technique were one to 1 1/2 years behind in math.
The same is true across the state, where in the first year of the Primary Mathematics Intervention Initiative for grades K-3, students in the program significantly outperformed their peers. The sample wasn't large " only 45 schools participated in the trial " but the results are, according to one official connected with the program, better than anyone expected.
The Kentucky Center for Mathematics at Northern Kentucky University coordinated the training of teachers in "Number Worlds," an instructional product of the SRA company. Typically, students selected for the program are a year or more behind in math skills. Intervention teachers work with them in small groups for short periods of time. What the students know as "Math Club" greatly accelerates their math learning through innovative exercises that make numbers meaningful. Local teachers saw the quickest growth in kindergarten and first-grade students, but older students made good strides as well.
Statewide, kindergartners in the program scored higher than 64 percent of all students nationally.
Another 41 teachers received the math grants for this year. The rollout of the program will continue with 40 more schools receiving two-year grants beginning next year.
If the first-year gains of the program can be repeated across a broader sample of students and schools this year and next, Kentucky may well have found a method to ensure that more students " perhaps many more " will have the fundamental math skills they will surely need in the highly technical jobs of the future. That is an exciting prospect.