Philanthropic, other organizations should think about providing financial assistance to allow programs to expand into lower-income communities

BOSTON – At a time of declining state and national math proficiency, after-school math programs offer a viable option for quickly increasing the quantity of mathematically competent students, according to a brand new Pioneer Institute study that profiles two such programs: Kumon and the Russian School of Mathematics (RSM).

“Given the disappointing state of math education in American public schools, after-school math programs could play a particularly natural part,” said Ze'ev Wurman, co-author with William Donovan, of “Axioms of Excellence: Kumon and also the Russian School of Mathematics.”

For the first time since 1990, fourth- and eighth-grade math scores fell around the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress. They remained flat in 2019.

After rising for several years, math scores around the ACT college entrance exam have been falling since 2012. In 2019 , the typical math score dipped below the 1998 level. What improvement has been achieved on various tests has largely been restricted to the kids of highly educated parents.

Progress has additionally slowed in Massachusetts, in which the number of students scoring “Below Basic” on state testing rose from 15 percent in 2019 to 19 percent in 2019.

These poor outcomes have facilitated the development of non-public after-school math programs like Kumon and also the Russian School of Mathematics. Japan-based Kumon celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2019 . It currently serves 4.2 million students at nearly 25,000 learning centers in 50 countries and regions. The company has 45 Massachusetts locations, 19 of which are within route 128.

Kumon students start as early as age three and may continue until they complete this program, meaning mastering high school-level math, including differential equations. Students master a series of sequential worksheets, each one a little more challenging than its predecessor.

Independent learning and building self-confidence are priorities. After completing a placement test, each student begins at a level where she or he might have little difficulty. They proceed through the worksheets in their own pace, visiting the Kumon Center twice a week and completing other work from home.

Like Kumon, Newton-based RSM, which serves 25,000 students in 40 locations across 11 states and Canada, including 15 mostly affluent Massachusetts municipalities, believes in starting students young. RSM students attend weekly classroom sessions that range from 1 hour 30 minutes and a pair of.5 hours, depending on the student's grade level.

Otherwise the two programs take completely different approaches. While Kumon is focused on routinizing important math abilities like multiplication tables to release working memory for additional complex functions, RSM stresses abstraction and reasoning skills.

Wurman and Donovan suggest that philanthropic and other organizations consider providing financial help to permit after-school math programs to expand into low-income communities where they are sorely needed.

The authors also call for more active communication between teachers and after-school programs, so after-school instructors know what students worked on on that day and just what they'll have to know to understand the next lesson.

About the Authors

William Donovan is really a former staff writer using the Providence Journal in Rhode Island where he wrote about business and government. He has taught business journalism in the graduate programs at Boston University and Northeastern University. He received his undergraduate degree from Boston College and the master's degree in journalism from American University in Washington, D.C.

Ze'ev Wurman is a senior fellow using the American Principles Project. He participated in developing California's education standards and the state assessments in mathematics between 1995 and 2007. Between 2007 and 2009 he served like a senior policy adviser using the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development at the U.S. Department of Education. This year, Wurman served on the California Academic Content Standards Commission that evaluated the suitability of the Common Core standards for California and was certainly one of its two members who voted against their adoption. He's a professional in a semiconductor start-up company within the Silicon Valley and holds over 35 U.S. patents.

About Pioneer

Pioneer Institute is an independent, non-partisan, privately funded research organization that seeks to enhance the caliber of life in Massachusetts through civic discourse and intellectually rigorous, data-driven public policy solutions according to free market principles, individual liberty and responsibility, and the ideal of effective, limited and accountable government.