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Meadows Foundation grant boosts Mathworks algebra program

Posted by Jayme Blaschke
University News Service
October 30, 2012

The Meadows Foundation of Dallas has awarded a one-year grant to the Mathworks center at Texas State University in support of research, development and external evaluation of the Mathworks Algebra Program (MAP).

The $153,000 grant will directly impact Miller Middle School in San Marcos, which has implemented the program. MAP is a comprehensive program that uses the Mathworks school-year curriculum, Math Explorations, to increase algebra readiness and success for all students. Included in MAP are numerous layers of support that involve Texas State math faculty, Texas State undergraduates, district administration, the school principal, math teachers and parents.

“The understanding of algebra concepts is critical to student success in high school and college,” said Bruce H. Esterline, V.P. of grants for the Meadows Foundation. “For this reason, the Foundation is pleased to support this pilot program and hopes that the curriculum can eventually be used to increase the algebra readiness and success of all students throughout the state.”

Research from the National Mathematics Advisory Panel shows, "students who complete Algebra II are more than twice as likely to graduate from college, compared to students with less mathematical preparation." Being able to master algebra opens up many doors of opportunity for young students in the math and science fields, career areas that are in high demand. However, for many students, simply passing Algebra I is a major obstacle. Statewide in the spring of 2012, only 39 percent of all students who took the Algebra I end of course (EOC) exam met the state's recommended "satisfactory" standard. This represents a tremendous challenge to enable all students to build a solid foundation for algebra and beyond.

MAP addresses this challenge by providing pathways for all students to complete Algebra I by the end of 8th grade or earlier. Algebraic concepts are woven in throughout the curriculum so that when students formally take algebra in grade 8 they will have the background needed for success. This is in contrast to traditional curricula that often thrusts students into algebra in high school without sufficient preparation. The Mathworks curriculum is enhanced by continual teacher feedback, integrating practice with theory.

"We're honored to be awarded this grant from the Meadows Foundation. Meadows supported our initial work of creating the Mathworks curriculum, and now they are providing critical support to help identify the critical elements of success that would enable a school to implement MAP," said Mathworks Director Max Warshauer. "We know that raising the level of mathematics education involves more than simply handing over a new textbook to a teacher.

"The program that we've established with San Marcos CISD engages the Texas State faculty working collaboratively with the Miller Middle School math teachers and San Marcos administration, creating paths of success for all young students," he said. "We're excited at the tremendous potential this program has to be a model for the state."

The Mathworks curriculum includes student textbooks, student workbooks and a teacher's edition. The curriculum is fully aligned to the state's math standards, the TEKS. More than four years of pilot data show a significant correlation between student use of the curriculum and success in algebra. The Meadows Foundation’s grant award for MAP at Miller joins the support of the KDK-Harman and Sid W. Richardson Foundations.

About Mathworks

Mathworks is a center for mathematics education at Texas State University with core initiatives of curriculum development, teacher professional development and summer math programs. The Mathworks curriculum, Math Explorations, is a series of textbooks designed to give young students a solid foundation in algebra. For more information about Mathworks, see www.txstate.edu/mathworks.

About the Meadows Foundation

The Meadows Foundation exists to assist people and institutions of Texas improve the quality and circumstances of life for themselves and future generations. The foundation strives to exemplify the principles of its founder in addressing basic human needs by working toward the elimination of ignorance, hopelessness and suffering, protecting the environment, providing cultural enrichment, encouraging excellence and promoting understanding and cooperation among people. For more information about the foundation, see www.mfi.org.