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Math matters: Program aiding Clear Creek

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By Nathan L. McBroom

Math and fun are usually polar opposites in the minds of most children. But in Charlotte Baker's class, students who had been lagging behind in the subject are finding that math adds up and it can be enjoyable.

Baker, a teacher at Clear Creek elementary, is seeing students excel through a program called Numbers World. Through the program, students learn basic math skills with interactive instruction, activities and worksheets.

Baker meets with the students in small groups to give them individual attention. She said that in that type of surrounding students feels the confidence to ask and answer questions. The class helps them believe in themselves, said Baker.

"It's given them a lot of confidence," she said. "They feel that it safe in here and that it's okay to ask and take a risk and try to answer a question."

The program, which is in its second year at Clear Creek, is funded by the Kentucky Primary Mathematics Intervention Initiative. Sara Monarch, director of student programs and services for the district, wrote a grant for all of the elementary schools to receive such a program, but Clear Creek was the only school to receive it.

Baker said the program is paying off.

She added that some students in the program have advanced their math skills an entire grade level.

"It's a victory of for the children," she said. "Any time that you see the lights go on for the child...that's a victory."

Baker said this past year Clear Creek saw their math scores jump. While her program only played a small role, she said, the improvement was due to principal Karen Downs and the wide vision for student's education.

"I'm just a tool to help the children," Baker said.

Downs is now using other people to implement the program in other classes.

According to statewide statistics, students who received the specialized instruction significantly outperform their peers. Kindergartners finished the year scoring higher than 64 percent of all students nationally, whereas their peers who did not receive the specialized instruction scored higher than only 36 percent of all students. First-graders who were part of the program scored higher than 49 percent of all students. Considering that these students started the year scoring higher than only 7-8 percent of all students, the gains are dramatic, according to state program administrators.