Trading flashcards for keyboards and notepads for computer screens, second-graders are learning math differently at Dallas Independent School District.
Starting this school year, all second-graders are using a personalized computer-based math program called Reasoning Mind to supplement their regular math lessons. Next school year, district officials may nearly triple the number of students using the program by expanding it to the third and fourth grades. The hope, district officials say, is to boost test scores and better prepare students for algebra.
“We’re looking for the silver bullet that’s going to help us out. And right now, Reasoning Mind seems like it’s the silver bullet for math,” said Lew Blackburn, president of the DISD board of trustees.
Reasoning Mind, a Houston-based nonprofit organization, was founded and developed by Russian mathematician Alexander Khachatryan. Funded largely by Texas philanthropists, many from oil and energy backgrounds, the program has been adopted by 331 schools in eight states, according to Reasoning Mind. With about 14,000 second-grade students, Dallas ISD is its largest partner.
At DISD, costs for the program total $3.8 million this school year. The district pays about $1.8 million from federal funds for low-income students and teacher training. Philanthropic donations cover the remaining $2 million, according to Reasoning Mind.
That price tag would at least double next school year if DISD goes forward with its plans for expansion, said Diedre√ Douglas, the North Texas regional director for Reasoning Mind. Expansion of the program must be approved by the DISD board.
While some nonprofit organizations have set up free or low-cost online student resources and even downloadable textbooks for any school to use, Reasoning Mind charges school districts for each student who uses the program and for teacher training.