“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.” – FDR
With a new year ahead of us, Zeno remains committed to working towards educational equity in our region and beyond. Education is the foundation of social, economic, and political opportunity, and we have the responsibility to ensure every child has access to a high quality education, creating a future of truly infinite possibilities.
Addressing Achievement Gaps
Some of the lowest overall achievement and largest achievement gaps among students in our state are found in math. Data published by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) for the 2015-2016 school year shows that only 61% of children in the state of Washington are arriving to kindergarten prepared to succeed in math, and only 55% of students are meeting 4th grade math standards. Unfortunately, even these low levels of success in math are not being equally achieved. Results from Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS) assessments show that only 49% of low income students are entering with the necessary math skills. Similar discrepancies exist at the elementary level, where only 38% of low income students are meeting 4th grade math standards. Research has shown that early math skills are “more predictive of general scholastic achievement than language, attention span, or social skills” across a range of demographics (Duncan et al 2007). When students fall behind in math early, it is extremely difficult to catch up as they reach higher levels of math and other STEM courses.
Zeno’s programs are designed to shift these alarming trends by engaging children in joyful, hands-on exploration of math from an early age.
Playing Math with Zeno
Research has shown a strong connection between playful, positive learning environments and academic success. Studies show that children make lasting improvements in their mathematical ability when fun games are used to teach pre-k math concepts (Whyte and Bull 2008; Ramani and Siegler 2008), and that frequent engagement with math games and math talk in the home has a strong relationship to the development of math proficiency (LeFevre et al 2009).
All of our programs and events center on creating opportunities for families to engage with math through game play on a regular basis. In our MathWays program, Zeno distributes Math Game Kits to families at least once a month through our partners. As families receive games, Zeno assists partners in facilitating Family Math Party events, giving families the opportunity to feel comfortable with the games and reinforce strategies for engaging their kids in math. In our Family Math Night and Math + Science Mashup programs, families come together to explore math concepts in new, hands-on ways, allowing them to build their math skills and increase confidence while discovering ways to incorporate math learning into their everyday lives.
By building confidence and skills in math for kids and families, we lay the foundation for a society in which every individual has the ability to be engaged, to contribute, and to reach their full potential!