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May 8, 2007
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(401) 863-2476

Algebra in Motion
Brown, Texas Instruments Bring Graphing Calculators to Hope High

A new educational partnership between Hope High School, Brown University, and Texas Instruments is bringing a fresh perspective to the study of lines, shapes, formulas, and trajectories that makes up high school algebra. The collaboration, which will provide access to graphing calculators for every ninth-grade algebra student at Hope High School, aims to improve student engagement and achievement in math.

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — A newly formed educational partnership involving Hope High School, Brown University and Texas Instruments (TI) is bringing new technology and approaches into the algebra classroom to engage student learning and strengthen student understanding and performance in key areas.

The collaboration will provide 350 TI graphing calculators as well as technical support, professional development, and classroom display technology to Hope High School teachers and students. The graphing calculators allow rapid feedback and intuitive connections between math concepts and their applications. They provide a more dynamic way to access the meaning of math on the page and to involve students who may have different learning modes.

“Much has been made of the need for standards in today’s schools,” said Brown University President Ruth Simmons. “This partnership aims to build opportunity for all students to achieve these standards. Students meet high standards when they are engaged and inspired, when they have the tools to ask questions and satisfy their own curiosity. I am proud to help bring this opportunity to Hope High School, which has long had a special connection with the Brown community.”

While students still need (and get) a thorough grounding in the math behind the graphs, the immediate connection between a number and what it represents engages students and helps them develop a more intuitive understanding of the relationship between abstract formulas and the real world. A firm grasp of mathematics forms the foundation for understanding developments in all areas requiring analytics and problem solving, and is particularly critical for science, engineering, medicine, and economics. Without solid math skills, full participation in today’s information economy remains out of reach for many students.

In several regions of the United States with similar collaborations, students using graphing calculators in the classroom improved their standardized test scores, their ability to resolve analytical problems and their enthusiasm for math. In particular, when economically disadvantaged students in Texas and Ohio classrooms employed graphing calculators along with a systemic intervention, they bridged the gap in math achievement that exists with wealthier suburban neighbors.

“TI’s longstanding commitment to student math achievement and to increasing diversity in science and engineering made this program a natural fit,” said Melendy Lovett, senior vice-president of TI and president of the corporation’s education technology group. “The true strength of the program is the collective value of what each partner brings. Brown’s connections in the community and strong commitment to following through with mentors and evaluation, coupled with Hope High School’s leadership and eagerness to take on the challenge of a new, more interactive approach to learning will be key to the project’s success.”

Texas Instruments donated nearly half of the graphing calculators and many hours of professional development time so that teachers can gain experience with the technology and learn new educational approaches that use the calculators to best advantage. Brown University purchased more than half of the calculators needed to provide one to every ninth-grade algebra student, through a personal donation made by President Simmons. The Swearer Center for Public Service has recruited Brown student volunteers to work with students in the classroom, and Brown’s Urban Education Policy Program will help evaluate the long-term impact of the project. The University is also covering the cost of release time for teacher training.

Editors: Brown University has a fiber link television studio available for domestic and international live and taped interviews and maintains an ISDN line for radio interviews. For more information, call the Office of Media Relations at (401) 863-2476.

A summary of research reports on the impact of graphing calculators on instruction in mathematics and science is available online.