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Valley math program seeks to expand

Date of release: 02/24/99

SAN MARCOS, TEXAS — Math performance among students in the Rio Grande Valley is improving, and a program that is being credited for that improvement is ready to expand in the Valley and other regions of Texas.

The Math Institute for Talented Youth (MITY) is currently training teachers in five Valley school districts -- Progresso, Donna, Mission, Rio Grande City and McAllen -- and in Port Lavaca. It has been so successful that MITY organizers plan to offer the program to more students and school districts next year.

The MITY is operated in the Valley by Southwest Texas State University and South Texas Community College. It instructs area public school teachers in math teaching methods proven effective at SWT’s acclaimed Honors Summer Math Camp and Junior Summer Math Camp.

“We train teachers to conduct camps of their own, using the curriculum and pedagogy that have worked for us at SWT. Then those tachers can begin their own camps and adapt the program for their own students,” said Max Warshauer, a professor of mathematics at SWT and program director.

Warshauer said the program will be added next year in the Hidalgo, La Hoya, Houston and Lockhart school districts.

“We have had wonderful results in all the school districts that have adopted this model. We wanted a program that worked -- something that would excite students about mathematics and prepare them for algebra. We’re very pleased with the success we‘ve had,” said Warshauer.

Test results indicate that students who participate in the MITY program score above the national average for pre-algebra skills. Warshauer says a better understanding of mathematics is very important for young students.

“A firm foundation in mathematics is critical in almost every area of science and engineering, and increasingly important in other areas as well. Our goal is to open the door of opportunity so that each student can reach his or her fullest potential, ” he said.

Warsauer said the program helps math “come alive” for students.

“We believe in active learning,” said Warshauer. “This program involves dramatic situations, teamwork and other engaging activities. Most important, though, is that it‘s something that works.”

The math institute also publishes Math Reader and Math Explorer eight times annually. These magazines provide math activities and projects for students and teachers.

The curriculum is authored by Warshauer, Terence McCabe and Hiroko Warshauer of the SWT Department of Mathematics and Charles Pascoe, award-winning children‘s playwright and professor in the SWT Theatre Department.