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W.Va. schools to participate in digital math study

Jul. 22, 2013 @ 02:48 PM

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A multi-year study of a new digital math curriculum will be conducted in schools in West Virginia.

More than 50 second-grade and fifth-grade math classes around the state will use the fully digital curriculum created by the nonprofit Reasoning Mind. The students’ progress will be studied by California-based SRI International, beginning in August 2014.

SRI, a nonprofit research group, received $3.5 million from the U.S. Department of Education to conduct the study, which will look at how computer-based learning affects students’ progress and how it fares against traditional textbook approaches.

“Our goal is to provide a curriculum that is a comprehensive, coherent approach to learning mathematics using state-of-the-art tools,” Reasoning Mind CEO Alex Khachatryan told the Charleston Gazette. “This study allows us to evaluate the efficacy of this approach.”

Several factors make West Virginia ideal for the study, including good technical infrastructure, the state’s implementation of Common Core standards and a need to improve math education, SRI said.

Only one third of West Virginia students who took the ACT in 2012 tested as ready for college-level coursework in mathematics. Fewer than half of all high school juniors scored in the proficient range in math on the WESTEST.

“Although there is growing interest in online education and digital tools, there has not been a rigorous evaluation of a year-long, fully digital curriculum in the classroom,” said Jeremy Roschelle, co-director of the Center for Technology in Learning at SRI. “Reasoning Mind offers a complete curriculum, ready for evaluation, and the state of West Virginia offers the right conditions for testing a digital mathematics approach at scale.”

School systems in Marion and Cabell counties already are using the program.