Cache County Tests Out Computer Program To Boost Math Skills

Dec 11, 2014

Utah’s SAGE exam is used to measure student proficiency in core subjects. In 2014 it showed that only 38.7 percent of Utah students were proficient in math and 43.7 percent in science.

To increase proficiency in these subjects, this year Cache County School District applied for and received a grant from the STEM Action Center. The district put the grant to use by providing every student in grades two through twelve a subscription to an artificial intelligence-based math technology program called ALEKS.

The program assesses a student’s knowledge to give individualized tutoring for what they are ready to learn, in addition to classroom instruction.

Bonita Richins, K-12 math and STEM specialist for the Cache County School District, said they chose the program because pilot schools saw a one-year math ability jump in students after just a few weeks of using the program.

“It identifies exactly what they’re missing and it helps them to go through and re-learn what they should have already learned or learn new things,” Richins said.

Teachers in the district have used ALEKS in different ways to supplement classroom learning. One teacher, Kevin Forsgren, who teaches a remedial math course at White Pine Middle School, said he uses the program multiple times a week to help his students fill in the gaps of their math understanding.  

“I feel that I’ve seen changes, I feel like they are going to be able to understand math much better by using it,” Forsgren said.

Richins said the district will apply for an additional year of funding to continue student improvement within STEM areas.