Geek To Class: Achieving Student Achievement in Math and

Geek To Class: Achieving Student Achievement in Math and

Geek To Class: Achieving Student Achievement in Math and

A recent study conducted by ITR Educational Trust (ICT) on behalf of The Achievement Project found that many educators and public school systems unintentionally ignore a characteristic that has a profound impact on student achievement – students with a higher IQ.

OTA WAY – Centers of Excellence (COE) designed to focus on four broad domain areas – Academic Learning, Social and Emotional Learning, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), and Professional Development – include Math and Language Arts as core subject areas for Instructional Design and support. A second Achieving Greater Achievement, a task force of teachers from across the United States that created the homework assignment and science study guide recommendations for states to comply with the Common Core State Standards, and several states – including Georgia, Colorado, Idaho, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Utah – have used the OTAWAY instructional design strategy.


Coordinating the content of the math curriculum and the instruction plan for 50,000 fifth and sixth grade students, Colby Howard, the director of instructional design for OTAWAY at ITR, uses adaptive teaching and information technology to bring learning to students within a growing challenging time period. “The biggest challenge to student achievement in mathematics is it’s a slower learner,” Howard said. “Ninety-five percent of students take on more challenging math content than they should.”

The challenge is making sure that students are prepared for the core academic subjects of math, computer science, and reading and writing. Howard said that in order to help students be prepared for test anxiety, a lot of working on teachers’ support of teachers and understanding of what students need, and resource-sharing between teachers – in small, small groups or in a classroom of students across grade levels – works well. Howard says that they use Smart Boards, computer labs, “smart strategies” – such as visualization and video – to help students understand what they’re doing at various times of the day. “It’s important to involve students in the process of designing our plans and goals,” Howard said. “It’s also important to develop personal learning plans for each student so he or she is on track.

“We’re finding some kids show a massive boost when they start individualized learning plans. It’s really empowering for them to feel like they are developing their own goals and help with their own progress, rather than their test preparation.” Howard suggests that teachers give individualized tests when they want to assess students’ understanding. “The first thing you want to do is assess how they’re learning a concept – for instance, ‘Now that you understand this fact, how can I test you on it?’” Howard said. “We’re seeing amazing results with test prep when the lessons are delivered to the student and not by someone else.”


The assessments usually occur in school, after school, or home at certain times. More valuable are the life skills skills provided by teaching their lessons in real life situations that combine learning the information with collaboration, interpretation, organizing, research, and skill building. Ann Swain, the education director of C.H.D. Corp., helps non-public schools, charter schools, and independent day schools in different states and as many as eight of the United States manage to implement their daily practice and analysis/analysis time into their curricula in what her organization calls a real-world approach, and says that it truly maximizes student achievement.

Swain compares the material learning to an eating process. “You have to exercise and exercise more to keep yourself svelte and fit,” Swain said. “In a similar manner, kids need to exercise and exercise their brain to stay as smart as they are. Students can develop this skill by giving it as much time as they need and they need to learn the ins and outs of it, because they’re going to use it over and over again.”

Swain offers real-world examples to the public educators and administrators that can help to illustrate how students and teachers apply lesson to real life situations. For example, she said that the public school system in central Pennsylvania (also called the Keystone Region) has recently been looking at how to create a STEM-based college and career readiness environment by continuing to lead toward proficiency and gaining skills in these critical areas. The goal is to have a STEM-focused focus on every STEM-focused course that a child may take in school; and also include collaborative activities, all at the student’s own pace.


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