Detroit's Downtown Boxing Gym Students See Their Math Skills Soar
Black Enterprise Magazine July/August 2018 Issue

Detroit’s Downtown Boxing Gym, founded by Khali Sweeney, is crushing it, as the young people say.

The gym is serious when it says its motto is Books Before Boxing—and the math scores of the students at the gym prove it.

They’ve been using a powerful adaptive learning program called ALEKS—short for Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces, described as a “Web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system” developed and produced by McGraw-Hill Education.

The results? The students are thriving: “averaging a 25.2% increase in math performance after using ALEKS for just nine weeks,” according to a statement. One 6th grade student improved an astounding 60% in the same time period.

About 90 students used the program last year; about 130 are expected to benefit this year.

“At the Downtown Boxing Gym, our motto is books before boxing,” Jessica Hauser, executive director of the Downtown Boxing Gym, is quoted as saying in a statement.

“Academics always come first, and we are extremely pleased by the terrific results we’ve seen after implementing ALEKS. Our students have made measurable gains, have stronger math skills, and have the confidence to tackle new mathematical concepts. We look forward to continuing to build upon these positive results, especially as new students continue to join our program.”

ALEKS provides what most students could benefit from: individualized learning based on a student’s unique strengths and weaknesses. According to McGraw-Hill Education, the artificial intelligence or AI platform uses “real-time feedback and inherent motivators” to improve retention, success, and confidence.

Oh, and the students like it too.

“I’m thankful for the ALEKS program because it opened my understanding to more math subjects for high school,” says Reynard, described as “a ninth-grader who demonstrated a 35% growth in math knowledge over nine weeks,” in a statement. “ALEKS helped me to get an A in my high school math class.”

“ALEKS motivated me to do better, to move past my limits,” Kenneth, “a sixth-grader who demonstrated 60% growth in math knowledge,” also over nine weeks, says in a statement. “I am thankful for the ALEKS program because it helped me explore new topics.”

“The remarkable results achieved by the Downtown Boxing Gym in just the past year demonstrate precisely the positive impact that well-implemented, purposeful education technology can have for students and teachers alike, even outside of the traditional classroom,” said Heath Morrison, president of McGraw-Hill Education’s School Group, in a statement.

“We’re incredibly proud to have played a role in this recent success with the Downtown Boxing Gym, and we look forward to driving more positive results for other organizations and schools by helping to address individual learning needs.”

Read more about Detroit’s Downtown Boxing Gym here.

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