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Innovation Corner

The Calculus Project:

The Calculus Project is an exciting initiative designed to increase the number of low income, African American and Hispanic American students who enroll in and successfully complete Calculus in high school. An ambitious effort to narrow the achievement gap in mathematics, the Calculus Project is comprised of summer enrichment courses and on-going academic support during the school year. The Calculus Project in the Newton Public Schools is modeled after a similar initiative in Brookline. Since its inception in June 2009, the African American Scholars’ Calculus Project at Brookline High School has dramatically increased the number of African American students who enroll in Calculus Honors and AP Calculus.

Last summer 95 students rising seventh and eighth graders in Newton participated in small group intensive instruction in mathematics and in the “Pride Curriculum,” designed to shift self-perceptions about academic accomplishment as students gain skills and competence.  During the school year, the students participate in meetings and three hours of weekly after-school tutoring.

 “The Calculus Project was a highly effective program for both students and teachers,” said Bigelow Middle School mathematics teacher Kim LeQuire of the summer program.  “I was able to work students in a manner unlike the traditional classroom and I have every confidence that the work we did during the summer will pay dividends for years to come. According to LeQuire, “Students made tremendous improvement in their test scores during the program, and the bonds they formed will help them support each other during the school year.” Though it’s too early for extensive data on the program’s impact on student enrollment and success in high school calculus, anecdotal data from students suggest that previewing the curriculum made a strong contribution to the their comfort, preparation, and readiness to learn challenging curricula. "The Calculus Project is an exciting initiative that is off to an excellent start,” said Superintendent David Fleishman. “Narrowing the achievement gap is an important goal and I am grateful for the support we have received to ensure that the students in the program reach their potential in math."

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