Mars High will use online tutorial program
February 18, 2013
ADAMS TWP — Mars High School will use an online tutorial program to help students who score basic or below basic on the state Keystone exams. Principal Todd Kolson explained to the school board at its Tuesday evening meeting that students who took the exams in December said they struggled with the algebra I test because they had not taken that class since middle school. The battery of tests was the first taken by Pennsylvania students since the state Department of Education switched from the PSSA test to the Keystone exam in July. The school board on Tuesday heard a presentation by Tracy Jackson of Pearson Learning on the company’s online mastery program, MyFoundationLab. Jackson said students would access the program online in the evening and on weekends anywhere an Internet connection is available. She said the first step is a diagnostic assessment test that determines what subject matter within algebra they need help in. “We want this to be individualized to each learner,” Jackson said. Those subject areas then appear on the screen, and students proceed through each area via lessons, activities and teacher audio or video. Jackson said each content area guides students along and helps them figure out a solution. She said the program is easy to use, offers personalized instruction, is motivating, provides immediate feedback and mimics the style in which the Keystones are given. Kolson said he asked math teachers to look at the program, and they found many positive aspects of it. But he said teachers said it may prove too time-intensive for low-achieving students and those who struggle in math. Superintendent William Pettigrew said while he has some concerns about unmotivated students dedicating 30 minutes per session to the program at home, he said they could realize the district is giving them an opportunity to graduate. “We will not know until we try,” Pettigrew said. Students would meet regularly with a Mars teacher-mentor. Kolson said each of six teachers would mentor 40 students to ensure they are staying on track. The tests will cost $17 per student. Kolson will know how his students scored on the Keystone Exams in March.