Arizona Department of Education, ASU Prep Digital develop partnership to bolster math outcomes

Courtesy photo/Charlie Leight, ASU Math Momentum

ASU Prep Digital has announced a new $9 million, three-year partnership with the Arizona Department of Education to address challenges students are experiencing with math education. The key focus of the partnership is a Math Momentum program designed to help middle schools. 

Crafted to boost the math and digital literacy skills of fifth-to-ninth-grade students using data-driven interventions, Math Momentum course offerings include grades 5-8 math, pre-algebra, algebra and geometry. Initially designed to serve about 4,000 students each year, the program can be customized to each participating middle school based on its needs. For example, ASU Prep Digital offers a fully virtual program or a hybrid program that combines virtual instruction with on-site, in-person learning facilitators.

ASU Prep Digital will also provide a dedicated teaching partner for participating math classrooms, a benefit for middle schools struggling to find highly qualified math teachers. For schools with math teachers on staff, learning coaches from ASU Prep Digital will collaborate with and assist the on-site teacher in delivering engaging, differentiated and live math lessons to support the individual learning needs of each student. 

“We want to ensure all of Arizona’s students master Arizona’s math standards by having access to a qualified teacher—whether that is in the classroom or through a digital platform when needed,” said Callie Kozlak, associate superintendent of policy and government relations with the Arizona Department of Education. “Finding high quality math educators has been a challenge for our schools, who struggle to attract professionals with our comparatively low wages. On top of that, Arizona educators and students have not always had access to quality tools to make math accessible and engaging.”

Teacher and facilitator training will be a core component of the Math Momentum program. ASU Prep Digital will offer a comprehensive training program for all participating teachers and school site facilitators along with yearlong support from its teachers.

“Arizona’s math achievement was slightly below national averages even prior to the pandemic. We don’t yet know the full extent of the toll the pandemic has taken on math achievement going forward, but we aren’t going to wait to act,” said Betsy Fowler, executive director of strategic initiatives at ASU Prep Digital.

To help ensure the success of this new program, ASU Prep Digital will leverage successful models from the Arizona Virtual Teacher Institute, another initiative co-funded by the Arizona Department of Education this past year. Experienced trainers from the institute are designing flexible synchronous and asynchronous options, both for this summer and the duration of the new school year. 

“The news is not all dire,” said Fowler. “Arizona has actually made strides in closing the math achievement gap since 2000. We are still slightly under the national average; only 41 percent of our students were passing math in the 8th grade in 2020.  And if Arizona is to reach its goal to see 60 percent of the state achieve a post-secondary degree by 2030, math success is a critical component of that goal.

“When we are talking about math, where students learn at such different paces and in such different ways, individualizing the instruction to each student is a critical need. We are so excited to bring this option to Arizona’s students,” she added.

To learn more about the Math Momentum program, visit https://www2.asuprepdigital.org/math-momentum.

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