Azusa Elementary Students Excited to Learn Math With Help of a Penguin


AZUSA, Calif., Oct. 28, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today the nonprofit MIND Research Institute and Azusa Unified School District announced the launch of an innovative blended learning math program featuring an animated penguin named JiJi. Funded by the school district and the Bloomfield Family Foundation, the launch event at Paramount Elementary School celebrated the public-private partnership that aims to elevate student math achievement.

This year, students at all 11 of AUSD's elementary schools will participate in MIND Research's blended learning ST Math program, which includes instructional software, teacher training and year-round educational support. The program, used by half a million children in 30 states, is proven to double or triple students' growth in math proficiency.

"We love how excited students get about learning with JiJi, and how the program transfers that excitement into engagement and deeper learning," said Superintendent Linda Kaminski, Ed.D. "We are pleased to be able to offer our students and teachers tools that enable the greatest academic achievement."

Research by the University of California, Irvine's Greg Duncan shows that early math skills are the number one predictor of later academic success, high school graduation rates and college matriculation. By focusing on math skills in elementary school, MIND, district officials and the Bloomfield Family Foundation hope to brighten these students' futures and create the necessary foundation for high-demand careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

ST Math is used by more than 80,000 students in Los Angeles County, many funded by philanthropy and MIND Research grants. Earlier this year, the independent third-party education research firm WestEd published a study verifying that 45 LAUSD schools using the program saw nearly twice the growth in math proficiency compared to others. ST Math's "effect size" on test scores was found to be well beyond what the Federal What Works Clearinghouse has deemed "substantively important."

"Our goal at MIND Research Institute is to ensure that all students are mathematically equipped to solve the world's most challenging problems," said Nigel Nisbet, Director of Content Creation at MIND Research Institute, who was on-hand at the celebration. "We're grateful to the Bloomfield Family Foundation and Azusa Unified School District for embracing this mission and working to make it a reality within their community."

MIND's ST Math program provides visual, computer-based math games that support deep understanding of concepts covered by California math standards at each grade level. Because the program doesn't rely on language proficiency or prior math proficiency, it's accessible for English Language Learners and children with learning disabilities. Students use ST Math for 45 minutes on the computer, twice a week under their teacher's supervision, in a blended learning environment. The teachers are trained on how to connect the visual puzzles to their conventional symbolic texts, and coached on how to guide children through challenging sections by getting them to express their thinking, rather than simply showing them the solution.

About MIND Research Institute

MIND Research Institute is an education nonprofit dedicated to ensuring that all students are mathematically equipped to solve the world's most challenging problems. MIND's distinctive visual approach to math and problem-solving is the basis of its innovative, research-proven ST Math® programs for elementary and secondary schools. MIND's programs currently reach over 500,000 students and 21,000 teachers in more than 1,780 schools in 30 states. For more information, visit www.mindresearch.net.

A photo accompanying this release is available at: http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=21869

CONTACT: Abby Daniels MIND Research Institute 949-345-8637 adaniels@mindresearch.net @MIND_ResearchSource:MIND Research Institute