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Study Confirms Gains From Game-Based ST Math

By Tom Vander Ark, Getting Smart

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A WestEd study released this week confirmed gains tracked by schools using the innovative ST Math program from MIND Research Institute. More than 1,700 schools use the supplemental math games.

While MIND Research carefully tracks results from all schools, the WestEd study only considered 45 schools in Los Angeles. The study showed that ST Math made a statistically significant impact on student math performance across 45 high-need low-performing LAUSD elementary schools based on an increased percentage of students scoring proficient and advanced on the California Standards Test (CST) in 2011. The effect size of 0.41 was well beyond the What Works Clearinghouse criteria of 0.25 for “substantively important” effect.

Study confirms the approach MIND Research uses to analyze large cohorts of 10 or more schools

The study confirms the approach MIND Research uses to analyze large cohorts of 10 or more schools–and there are 20 similar comparisons from Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Seattle and Washington, D.C. ST Math is used by more than 500,000 students in 30 states.

The LA schools gained access to ST Math through the Los Angeles Math Initiative, supported by Verizon, Boeing, Hyundai, Capital Group, the Whitman-Harsh Family Foundation, the Leonetti/O’Connell Family Foundation and more. The Seaver Institute provided initial funding for this research study.

The Santa Ana Unified School District, south of Los Angeles, provides another dramatic example of longitudinal results achieved by schools using ST Math. SAUSD, a high poverty, high ELL district, effectively closed the achievement gap by moving from 35% proficiency in math to the state average of 67% after introducing ST Math.

Many elementary schools are trying out digital math content–it’s often not aligned to the core instructional program. MIND Research links ST Math to classroom instruction providing extension, application, and critical thinking opportunities. Implemented with fidelity, the blended approach is a highly effective strategy for boosting achievement.

ST Math runs on iPads. In fact, co-founder Matthew Peterson’s team rewrote more than 900 games to fully take advantage of touch. They’ve now set their sites on the college gateway course–Algebra–and are building a highly interactive core curriculum.

Dr. Peterson believes that, “There is a clear path to get every student proficient in math and we’re going to make it happen!”  The WestEd study suggests they are on the right path.

Tom Vander Ark is CEO of Getting Smart, an education adovocacy company. Follow him @TVanderArk.

This blog first appeared on GettingSmart.com.

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