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Verrado/Rodel Charitable Foundation Partnership Brings Innovative Math Program to West Valley Schools


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BUCKEYE, Ariz. Elementary students at five West Valley schools are discovering that math can be fun thanks to an innovative program introduced by The Rodel Charitable Foundation of Arizona and DMB Associates, Inc., the developer of Verrado.

DMB donated $70,000 to Rodel and worked with school district superintendents and principals of five West Valley schools to introduce the math program, which involves participation of parents, teachers, principals and superintendents; surprise incentives like pizza parties to keep students motivated; and new learning materials. Without the donation, the program, developed by Rodel and called the MAC-Ro program, could not be offered to second- and third-graders at Verrado Elementary and Scott Libby Elementary schools in the Litchfield Unified School District; Ruth Fischer Elementary School in the Saddle Mountain Unified School District; and Rainbow Valley Elementary and Liberty Elementary schools in the Liberty Elementary School District. In addition, these schools would not have ordinarily qualified for the program since Rodel only offers it to schools in high-poverty school districts. MAC-Ro is short for Math Achievement Club by Rodel.

“DMB is committed to enhancing education in the West Valley at all levels,” said John Bradley, DMB vice president and Verrado general manager. “If we’re to compete with other countries in the fields of science and engineering, we need to help our educators with innovative educational programs in math. Rodel has developed such a program and we’re helping to bring it to our schools.”

To determine a baseline math level and monitor progress, students will be tested before the program begins and at the end of the school year.

The MAC-Ro program was designed by Dr. Carol Peck when she was superintendent for the Alhambra Elementary School District. In 2003, Rodel piloted the program in 10 Arizona schools in five districts. Initially, it was implemented in high-poverty areas to provide an engaging and motivating structure for teachers and students.

“We’ve found that the program’s motivational techniques and required parent/student participation are the keys to the success of the program,” said Dr. Peck, president and CEO of Rodel Charitable Foundation of Arizona. “We’re changing the perception of math from a subject that is feared and difficult to one that is fascinating and fun.”

“Our school district superintendent, Dr. Tom Heck, dressed as a math magician at our introduction assembly to excite our students about this new program,” said Molly Evans, principal of Verrado Elementary School, who also donned a princess costume for the assembly. “The most redeeming value of MAC-Ro is that it allows our kids to become experts in mathematics, while involving parents and teachers. The students share with parents what they’ve learned and actually play a math game with them. It’s very exciting when students are empowered with good math understanding and are able to make a school to home connection.”

A new study by researchers at the University of Arizona showed that schools participating in the MAC-Ro had more than double the increase in students meeting or exceeding standards on the AIMS test compared to similar schools. Overall, during the 2004-05 school year, MAC-Ro schools gained an average of 16.8 points over the previous year. Over the same period, a control group of schools with similar demographics only gained 5.9 points and the statewide average rose 12 points. Even greater gains were seen in schools that had been in the program since it began in 2003. MAC-Ro’s original pilot schools gained an average of 35.5 percentage points of students meeting or exceeding state standards on the AIMS test. This was more than double the state average gain of 14 points.

Rodel provides MAC-Ro schools with staff development for teachers and administrators and with resources for parent trainings to ensure students have quality instruction in the classrooms and support at home. Monthly surprises and recognition are awarded to students to keep them motivated and excited about the program. The program requires innovative classroom participation of superintendents, principals, teachers and MAC-Ro monitors to make sure effective teaching strategies are executed. Central to the MAC-Ro math initiative are the MAC-Ro workbooks, which provide supplementary practice on the state math standards, and are completed at home with parent assistance. These workbooks ensure greater repetition and exposure to essential math skills.

Fifteen additional schools have joined the program for the 2006-07 school year. This caps off a 40 percent expansion of the MAC-Ro program throughout Arizona which now offers this math achievement program to 88 schools in 38 districts serving 18,000 students in five Arizona counties.

The Rodel Charitable Foundation of Arizona’s vision is for Arizona to have one of the best pre-kindergarten through 12 educational systems in the country by 2020. For more information about Rodel’s initiatives, visit www.rodelfoundationaz.org.

Verrado, a development by Scottsdale-based DMB Associates, Inc., is a modern community nestled in the foothills of the White Tank Mountains in Buckeye, Ariz. Upon completion, the 8,800 acre community will have up to 14,000 homes, 325 acres of parks and 4 million square feet of commercial space. For more information about Verrado, please visit www.verrado.com.