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Community Builder: Technology grant sends test scores soaring

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education Perham, 56573
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New York Mills and Perham school districts have partnered together through a grant aimed at improving math and science scores - and it shows.

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Math scores in both schools have soared since the E2T2 grant went into effect, hoisting up the school's No Child Left Behind math scores to levels that surpass the state average.

The aim of the E2T2 grant is to provide additional funding in the way of technology studies. Considering that such technology requires critical thinking in math and science, students have been challenged and assisted like never before.

Blaine Novak, principal for New York Mills High School, said the grant has allowed the district to purchase technology necessary for its new approach to teaching math.

The new approach is designed to target students immediately who are in need of extra instruction, before they slip through the cracks.

In NY Mills, the grant targets math classes in grades four through 12. In Perham, it applies to K-12.

The grant allowed New York Mills to purchase interactive tools, like data projectors and Study Island, a web-based formative assessment tool that helps interpret data to guide instruction.

Essentially, the tool would show where a student - or students - were falling behind, how to correct them in that area and what that correction would lead to, in terms of their learning potential.

NY Mills teacher Megan Myers taught sixth through eighth grade math during the 2010-11 school year. For her, the grant provided data that allowed her to pinpoint areas where each student - and class as a whole - needed extra attention.

"What E2T2 helped us understand was where they were, where they needed to go and how to get them there," she said.

Myers and her colleagues were stunned with the achievements of students.

Having taught the eighth grade students for two years prior to the E2T2 year, Meyers was shocked with what she saw.

"I was shocked at the improvements that they made this year," she said. "I saw improvements in all of them, but the level of math that these students were doing totally floored me. I was so impressed with their growth."

The grant also allowed the two districts to pair together to hire an integrationist, someone who could help guide staff in using the data assessment tools. Having that person on hand was tremendously helpful in making sense of the data, Myers said.

Myers said technology doesn't make or break a teacher or student - but if a teacher is comfortable using it, she said it can be an incredible tool, just as it was in her case.

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