Yale Joins with New Haven Public Schools for America Counts Program
Representatives of Yale University and New Haven public schools will jointly visit a component of the city’s America Counts program on Thursday, April 3 at 2 p.m. in a kickoff to mark April as national Mathematics in Education Month.
Bruce Alexander, vice president and director of Yale University’s Office of New Haven and State Affairs, and Dr. Reginald Mayo, New Haven’s superintendent of schools, will visit Fair Haven Middle School’s fifth grade, which is temporarily located at 560 Ella Grasso Boulevard while Fair Haven Middle School on Grand Avenue is being renovated.
Every afternoon at 1:30 p.m., fifth graders at Fair Haven Middle School flock to the front door to anxiously await their daily America Counts math tutors - 63 Yale University students paid through a federal work study program by Yale’s Office of New Haven and State Affairs to tutor the youngsters in math and prepare them for the Connecticut Mastery Test.
Along the way, some friendships have been sparked in the America Counts program, a federally sponsored initiative that focuses on increasing the mathematical achievement of students from kindergarten through ninth grade. The program is one of many education partnerships between Yale and New Haven public schools.
America Counts is part of a growing national movement to ensure that students will master basic math skills and have a solid math foundation by 8th and 9th grades, both of which are essential for college preparation. College students and other adults who have an interest in mathematics are encouraged to serve as tutors and mentors in local schools and community centers.
Yale also participates in the America Reads program, an initiative to help all children gain the ability to read independently and on grade level by the third grade. Forty percent of the nation’s children are not reading well enough by the end of third grade. Studies find that sustained individualized attention can markedly raise reading levels, especially when combined with parental involvement. This initiative also encompasses family literacy. Over 500 Yale students have participated as tutors working one-on-one with young children since the program’s inception in 1999.
Mayo said the school system chose to pilot the program with Fair Haven Middle School’s fifth grade because the grade is contained in one building, the school was enthusiastic about participating and fifth grade is a critical time for math knowledge.
“Students begin learning statistics, geometry and measurement in fifth grade,” he noted. “Students get the building blocks for math in kindergarten through fourth grade. Fifth grade is when they begin having to apply what they’ve learned.”
Math supervisor Pamela Barker-Jones worked with Yale student coordinators Enoch Wu and Jacques Pouhe to create a curriculum for the pilot. She noted that fifth graders need a lot of direct math instruction and support to prepare them for the math section of the Connecticut Mastery test administered in the sixth grade. Having the Yale tutors supplement math instruction “is a neat way to achieve class size reduction on a weekly basis,” Barker-Jones said.
Improving math performance in fifth grade will have a positive effect on the upper grades, she noted. “We won’t be able to improve high school math skills unless we start with a good foundation in the lower grades,” Barker-Jones said.