Berrian School offering extended-day math intervention to 25 students

Intervention teacher Beth Kniel works with kindergarten students on basic math skills at Berrian Elementary School. The school has launched a before-school math tutoring program for kids in grades K-3. (H-W Photo/Steve Bohnstedt)
Posted: Feb. 1, 2013 9:56 am Updated: Feb. 15, 2013 11:15 am

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

Quincy's Berrian Elementary School is taking some innovative action to give students an extra boost in math.

The school's administration recently opted to rearrange the way it spends federal Title 1 money to provide a new extended-day math intervention for 25 students in kindergarten through grade 3.

Ordinarily, most Title 1 money is used to provide instruction in reading and writing, so redirecting some federal funding for an extended-day math intervention is an uncommon but needed approach, Principal Chrissy Cox said.

"We are very fortunate at our building to have quite a lot of literacy services here," Cox said. "One of the things that's unfortunate is, we don't have a lot of support for math intervention, and we know some students struggle in math."

This became especially evident after the school lost a half-time math interventionist whose position last year was funded by a grant that expired.

"We really felt like we needed something for math," Cox said.

So by redirecting some Title 1 money, school officials were able to create a new before-school math tutoring program that's giving an extra boost to 25 students for 40 minutes a day on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

During the program, tutoring sessions are kept small, with just three to five students taking part in each group so teachers can provide more individualized attention.

Participants were identified by teachers who felt those students "would be able to make it in the regular curriculum" if they could receive some extra attention to help them master basic math skills.

"They're just students who need a little bit of a boost in math to help them along the way," Cox said.

The intervention is even being extended to kindergarten students. "That's something we've never done before," Cox said.

"A large number of our students come in already behind when they walk in as a kindergarten student, and the longer they are in school, the longer the gap can get," she said.

"So our goal is to catch them early. We're noticing now that they're struggling a little bit, and we don't want them to be struggling a lot. So if we can catch them in kindergarten, they might not need these additional services along the way."

Cox said the extended-day math intervention is going "really great" so far. "Our kids are happy to be here," she said.

The five teachers working in the program especially like how the program is conducted before the regular school day begins when students are "fresh and ready to learn," Cox said. "That's been a key ingredient as well."

Parents must give their permission for students to take part in the program, but this hasn't been an issue.

"We have parents who very much believe this is a move in the right direction for their child," Cox said.

Currently, 16 other Berrian students are on a waiting list to get into the math intervention program.

"We would do more if we could," Cox said.