Linus Pauling Math Lab adds up for students

Linus Pauling Middle School students received extra math support from a program funded by the Corvallis Public Schools Foundation.

The Linus Pauling Math Lab opened in September 2013 and was available to students before school to build their math skills and self-confidence, without interrupting their regular class schedule. “This type of support is effective for students and the school district as it leverages existing resources for maximum impact,” said Corvallis Public Schools Foundation Executive Director Brenda VanDevelder.

Individual tutoring is a big shift for students, said Linus Pauling Principal Eric Beasley. The Math Lab provides opportunities for better student assessment and instructional enrichment. It also has had a ripple effect as best practices are now being replicated in other math lab classrooms. Students are entering middle school with skill gaps and 30% are entering 6th grade without the skills needed for math classes. Linus Pauling provides individualized math support during four “extended learning” periods during the school day, but some students don’t have that “extra” period and the before school option is a critical offering. In its first year, the Math Lab served 76 students, with 13 students participating in the before school option.

The Linus Pauling Math Lab was made possible through the Corvallis Public Schools Foundation with a $10,000 grant funded last fall by the CH2M HILL Foundation. CH2M HILL is a global engineering employer and is committed to developing greater diversity in engineering candidates. Mastery of math and science in middle and high school is a critical step on that path.

For many students, math is a hurdle to overcome. Math lab teachers work to creatively motivate students with incentives to complete mini-goals using Khan Academy and other on-line resources on their tablet devices. These practices have carried over to the other math intervention classes within the school, impacting four additional math classes.

According to Principal Beasley, “One of our Math Lab students came in at a fourth grade level in math. She has diligently attended the Math Lab and set a goal to be proficient for her grade level by the end of the year. In only two months, she has gained nearly two grade levels in her math skills.” This demonstrates how a targeted approach can make a significant impact on student achievement. “This tiered approach is keeping kids in core instruction and providing additional intervention to fill identified skill gaps, build number fluency and gives students practice with their current math coursework. This is making a difference for our kids.”