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November 9th, 2012
Officials defend online math program, ask Dallas ISD to expand it
Officials with the online math program Reasoning Mind defended the course to Dallas ISD school board members Nov. 8 and implored the district to better implement it and expand its use in the coming years.
Superintendent Mike Miles said he would improve implementation of the course and make sure students use the math software more often.
DISD has spent more than $3 million on Reasoning Mind this school year and last to provide tailored supplemental math lessons for elementary school students. When they launched the math software program, district officials praised it as “the silver bullet for math.”
A district study of Reasoning Mind’s first year denounced the program as costly and ineffective. But district administrators last week said the study was flawed and pulled it from DISD’s website.
On Nov. 8, Reasoning Mind officials spent an hour telling trustees about the program’s benefits when used regularly and asked DISD officials to recommit to it.
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“Success is going to require a commitment from both sides of the partnership,” said Kelly Compton, executive director of the Hoglund Foundation, which has raised millions to support Reasoning Mind. “The district needs to help us meet our target.”
Reasoning Mind, developed by a Houston-based nonprofit, was implemented districtwide last school year for about 13,400 second-graders. Students take the course online, both at school and at home, to help prepare them for algebra, a ninth-grade class.
The program recommends that students spend 70 hours a school year—or two hours a week—on the program. But technology problems, poor training for teachers, and the decision by some principals not to implement the course meant second-graders averaged only 30 hours last school year.
A study by Reasoning Mind indicated that second-graders who spent at least 70 hours on the program last year gained an average of 1.6 grade levels on the national standardized Iowa Test of Basic Skills—meaning their scores were like those a typical mid-year third-grader would get on the same test. Meanwhile, students who spent fewer than 10 hours on Reasoning Mind actually fell behind on their ITBS performance.