Pickerington Times-Sun

Straight-A Funds

District in line for money to build math skills

Schools looking for more grant help in bringing Math Matters to students

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The recent approval of $144 million in Straight-A Funds for schools across Ohio will send additional dollars into the Pickerington Local School District to assist students in mathematics, as well as to provide new links to careers and college.

In late July, the Ohio Senate approved the distribution of Straight-A Funds for schools across the state that applied to receive financial support for "creative teaching initiatives."

Prior to that action, the PLSD already had received approximately $1.25 million for the creation of courses to provide students in grades 7-12 with manufacturing- and pharmacy-related job training and college credit.

That funding also allowed the district to purchase a "Fab Lab," a $600,000, 32-foot fabrication laboratory that provides hands-on learning opportunities for everything from milling and lathing, to computer-aided design and robot building.

Now, district officials are hopeful they'll receive another $5 million in Straight-A grants.

The PLSD will receive a share of three separate grants awarded to consortiums consisting of roughly nine to 15 central Ohio districts, Columbus State Community College, the Fairfield County Educational Service Center and the Educational Services Center of Central Ohio.

"Depending on each grant, the Fairfield County ESC and the ESC of Central Ohio are lead groups in all of the grants," said Brian Seymour, director of instructional technology in the PLSD Department of Teaching and Learning. "By working with a consortium you not only have the knowledge of the ESC, but you have six to10 other districts that will work together to make the project as impactful for students as possible.

"The ESC being the lead partner was the one that actually submitted the grant, but all of the schools had a part in writing the grant. The money will be divided up accordingly depending on how the grant was written. Each of the three grants is different financially."

A consortium that includes the PLSD received approximately $8.9 million to implement DataStrong!, a system that uses data to match students with adults best suited to help them succeed. That includes linking students to organizations, employers, schools and other students to increase the number of adults who have postsecondary degrees or certificates in specified industry sectors.

Another consortium including the PLSD also was awarded approximately $8.3 million for Project Fast Forward, which seeks to provide career and college pathways to 300 "at-risk" Fairfield County students through use of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math curriculum.

Additionally, a consortium involving the PLSD will receive approximately $7.8 million to develop Math Matters.

That project seeks to individualize math learning through online and in-person instruction. It's been used particularly for students with low reading proficiency or for whom English is a second language.

"The grant funding is very significant," Seymour said. "For PLSD, this will allow us to start two new programs and have available access to new data analysis that we definitely would not have been able to have without the grant.

"For example, Math Matters will allow all of our students in grades K-6 to be able to have full-time access to an online math program called ST Math. This program will individualize math extensions for all of our students. Students and parents will have access to the program at home, essentially extending math opportunities to 24/7."

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