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Volume 58, Issue 1

July, 2009

$1.5 million grant to improve student math skills

A successful program that teaches math to non English speakers will be modified to teach youngsters with disabilities the math skills considered vital for success in the 21st century.

Lindy Crawford, associate professor, Education, recently received a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to support a three-year project designed to assist students with math learning disabilities. The goal is to help students to successfully engage in grade-appropriate math instruction.

“Algebra is the gateway to success,” Crawford said recently. “The project focuses on algebra and other critically important middle school math content to help students navigate a world filled with mathematical meaning.”

Crawford will team with Digital Directions International, Inc. to design a supplemental Web-based curriculum aligned with national and state math standards to get middle school-aged students working at their appropriate grade levels. The program will be individualized so that students will begin at their knowledge base and progress at their own pace. Teachers will receive frequent updates on students’ progress and knowledge of basic skills.

Much of the programming will carry forward successful components of Crawford’s previous partnership with Digital Directions International, Inc. Their combined efforts to teach mathematics to non-English speakers included using color and music to keep children’s interest while using the computer program.

“For decades, we have concentrated on low reading skills,” Crawford said. “But in a digital society, math is fundamental as well.”

Crawford will work with teachers and students in Colorado school districts to design and implement the program. Colorado Springs School Districts 11 and 20 have already expressed interest in helping with the design and testing of the program as have Denver Public Schools and rural school districts in southeastern Colorado.

“This is a pilot test in Colorado only but we want to be sure to have input from students and teachers in urban and rural districts,” Crawford said. “This research will, we hope, make it possible to replicate use of the program in other states.”

Assisting Crawford as research assistants will be Megan Schmeister, a former K-12 special education teacher and UCCS College of Education graduate, and Marilee McDonald, a former high school math teacher. The three will work with teachers and students this fall and begin testing the new program by Jan. 2010.

Digital Directions International, Inc. is a socially-responsible, educational technology pioneer and publisher of digital educational content. DDI is focused on developing and distributing online supplemental and educational intervention software products in mathematics and science, especially for English Language Learners, Latino, and other students in need.

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