The other day, I wrote a post about how two hours of TV viewing decreases the math skills of low-income 5-year-olds, yet has no effect on high-income youngsters watching the same amount of TV. In it, I mentioned how a friend of mine, a New York City public school teacher, surmises that low-income kids have less intellectually stimulating activities in their lives, such as developmentally appropriate toys that foster creative thinking and open-ended problem solving.
Although I’m not a supporter of computer games and have not jumped on the educational tech bandwagon, I did perk up the other day during my interview with Jessie Woolley-Wilson, daughter of a Haitian immigrant father and CEO of DreamBox Learning.
What grabbed my attention? “Wealthy parents knew about this,” Woolley-Wilson told me. “We think it’s important for all parents to know about this program.”
DreamBox Learning Math
The program Woolley-Wilson is referring to is DreamBox Learning Math, educational software in a gamelike format that teaches kids K-8 math standards in a way that’s engaging and fun. Even Harvard researchers have found that the program increases test scores.
Common Sense Education describes the software as “an interactive, adaptive, self-paced program that provides engaging activities for students to learn and practice skills in mathematics.”
Because it’s adaptive, students can work below or above their grade level. It’s available to parents as well as school districts. Woolley-Wilson sees the program as one way of addressing inequity in the schools.
Here are more of Woolley-Wilson’s thoughts on ways to improve equity in education, excerpted from a white paper she wrote, Educational Equity: Six Ways to Open Opportunity:
1. Greater Diversity in All Schools
Research shows that socioeconomic integration benefits both low-income and wealthier students. Positive actions [have been] taken by the Obama administration to support school integration by income, but more needs to be done.
2. Set Expectations and Standards High
We need to improve high school college preparation at scale. This can be accomplished by consciously having teachers’ expectations for all students set high, and to use state and federal policy to improve high schools. High school quality is a key predictor of student success in college.
3. Aligning School Achievement With Teacher and Student Success
High teacher turnover in low-income schools affects student learning and destabilizes education communities. Ongoing professional development for teachers as well as formative assessment training and use in classrooms improve the experience and achievement of teachers and students.
4. Connecting With Broadband and the Innovation It Enables
Providing high-speed access in all schools and the ability to learn anytime, anywhere can help us fulfill the promise of education technology to reach every student.
For more information, visit the DreamBox website.