FRESNO, CA, Sept. 11, 2006–James K. Polk elementary school received a 21st Century Learning grant from Fresno County that it used to launch a new after-school enrichment program free of charge to students. The program features unique visual math computer games that are proven to increase students’ math test scores. Polk is one of the first schools in Fresno’s Central Unified School District and the 100th school in California to incorporate the non-profit education researcher MIND Institute’s unique spatial-temporal math software, “ST Math,” to improve students’ achievement in math. After pilot testing the games last spring, Polk incorporated them into its new after-school program. The after-school program is offered to students in grades K to 6 on a lottery basis. In addition to learning math concepts in a new way, students can also take advantage of the after-school program’s other activities such as homework help, reading practice, arts and crafts, cooking, gardening, physical education, and writing projects on the computer. Many more after-school programs like Polk’s will be made possible at California elementary and middle schools through over $400 million in new grants expected to become available soon through the state’s Proposition 49.
Polk is beginning its third year as a new elementary school, located in a rapidly growing Fresno County rural suburban area. With a diverse population of 630 students, 26 percent of whom are English language learners, language barriers are a challenge at the school. In addition to serving students who speak a variety of different languages, Polk’s after-school environment also serves students whose levels of math proficiency vary. The MIND Institute’s award-winning ST Math family of language-independent, visual exercises has proven to be highly accessible, engaging, and productive for all students, even for those who are struggling. Students who are not proficient in English encounter no barriers to using the visually-based, spatial-temporal math software. Students already performing well in math find innovative and powerful new ways to picture math principles, as well as challenging, multi-step, problem-solving exercises.
“With ST Math, all students are empowered to be successful,” said Sandra Frisby, Vice Principal at James K. Polk Elementary School in Fresno. “They are actively engaged while developing essential mathematical reasoning skills. Students also develop divergent critical thinking skills that enable them to be successful in other areas of their lives.”
Vice Principal at Polk, Sandra Frisby, learned about ST Math at a local MIND Institute seminar earlier this year in Fresno. Impressed with the demonstration that she saw and the program’s six-year history of increasing participating students’ standardized math test scores an average of 15 to 20 percentile points, she recognized its potential to help Polk’s students do the same and improve the school’s annual yearly progress (AYP). While the school met its AYP goals last year, it was only slightly above the target goals. In response, Polk added the new after-school program last year to further provide academic support, enrichment activities, athletic skill development, and enhance students’ connection to school. It also added pull-out intervention programs targeting Title I students at different levels of need.
Frisby set out to make ST Math part of Polk’s after-school program. MIND Institute provided onsite training to Polk’s teachers and staff and helped them pilot test the program in May. Prior to school starting a couple of weeks ago, MIND Institute worked closely with the school to set up new student accounts and ensure a smooth start to the school year for Polk’s after-school students. Frisby stated that students love the program and were able to start playing the math computer games quickly and easily. In addition to Polk, five other innovative schools in Fresno also have adopted ST Math: Rowell, Calwa, Teague, and West Fresno Elementary Schools, and the Bullard Talent Project.
“ST Math is an excellent intervention resource for Polk Elementary School’s after-school enrichment program, with its ability to productively engage students regardless of their level of academic or language proficiency,” said Andrew Coulson, MIND Institute Education Division President. “The program moves students forward independently at their own pace and improves their math achievement. All of its computer games are designed to help students exceed state standards, as well as national learning objectives in mathematics and No Child Left Behind’ legislation requirements.”
ST Math was created by MIND Institute Co-Founder Dr. Matthew Peterson, an expert in the neural basis of processing information and the acquisition of mathematical reasoning abilities. It is designed to improve student achievement in math using visual math software and a language-independent teaching method. Proven through six years of research in schools to be effective for students of all abilities, the software improves math skills using visual exercises without language to tap students’ innate abilities to visualize problems and their solutions. ST Math recently won the Association of Educational Publishers’ (AEP) prestigious “2006 Distinguished Achievement Award” for excellence in educational publishing in the Educational Software – Math category. ST Math is offered to schools on an annual subscription basis for student licenses, or as a perpetual site license by grade. School fees start at approximately $7,500. For information, educators can call the MIND Institute toll free at (888) 751-5443 or visit its website at www.mindinstitute.net.
The MIND Institute is a community-based non-profit research organization formed in 1998 and located in Costa Mesa, CA. It is dedicated to neuroscience and learning research and to preparing students in grades K-12, regardless of cultural or socio-economic background, for success in school, work and society. The Institute has successfully integrated more than 30 years of breakthrough academic research on the brain and learning at the University of California, Irvine, into applied math education programs for elementary school students. Student test results at schools that use the Institute’s ST Math+Music” program have shown consistent dramatic improvements in standardized test scores. There are currently over 150 elementary schools in California, Illinois, Louisiana and Texas with more than 30,000 students participating in the Institute’s ST Math+Music program. For additional information about the MIND Institute, please visit www.mindinstitute.net, or phone (714) 751-5443.