Texas site multiplies math help

As part of an overall program to improve grade-school math performance, Texas officials have launched a Web site that gives teachers and students access to the best teaching strategies and curriculum materials from across the state.

The site also eventually will be used to conduct online diagnostic tests of students' abilities.

The Web site was one of the features included in the Texas Math Initiative proposed by Gov. Rick Perry at the beginning of the year and approved by the legislature in the spring.

Perry believes the initiative is needed to prepare fifth- through eighth-grade students for more advanced math courses later in their school careers. Studies have shown that Texas students in lower grades test equally well with their peers in other states, but that by the time they get to the eighth grade, Texas students slip to the middle of the pack.

The Web site (www.tea.state.tx.us/math) will help teachers assess the value of their lessons by comparing them with the best from around the state, said Debbie Graves Ratcliffe, director of the communication division at the Texas Education Agency.

The site also will have a homework help section through which teachers can post homework assignments online for students.

"It's also expected to save a lot of money for the state," she said. "There are potentially millions of dollars in savings just with the online diagnostic tests."

The Texas Web site is part of a growing trend toward states using online technology to meet educational goals.

For example, Massachusetts in August launched its Mathematics Curriculum Framework Web site, through which teachers can access curriculum standards and student assessment tools. In April, Oregon began online testing of the reading and math skills of third- through 10th-grade students.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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