learn / 2015

Giving Students Power Over Numbers and Power Over Learning

Giving Students Power Over Numbers and Power Over Learning

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Ironbox Education, Inc.

Chronic low achievement in math has been a major barrier that has prevented Los Angeles from being considered the best place to learn. Struggling students need an effective math fluency system to build the foundation they need to succeed in higher level math, and teachers need expert training to implement effective math instruction. Ironbox Education will fill both of these needs for multiple schools in Los Angeles County by using a proven math fluency system designed by Dr. Randy Palisoc.


In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • County of Los Angeles

How do you plan to use these resources to make change?

  • Engage residents and stakeholders
  • Implement a pilot or new project
  • Mobilize for systems change
  • Build capacity of teachers and parents to promote math fluency

How will your proposal improve the following “Learn” metrics?

  • Percent of community college students completing a certificate, degree, or transfer-related program in six years
  • District-wide graduation rates
  • HS student proficiency in English & Language Arts and Math
  • Academic Performance Index* scores
  • College matriculation rates
  • Student education pipeline (an integrated network of pre-schools, K-12 institutions, and higher education systems that prepares students for seamless transitions between high school, higher ed
  • Suspension and expulsion rates (Dream Metric)
  • Truancy rates in elementary and middle schools (Dream Metric)

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the best place to learn.

Ironbox Education was founded by Dr. Randy Palisoc, a renowned LA educator who is known for making math easy. Dr. Palisoc has been featured as a math education speaker, and a school he founded in South LA was named the #1 Urban Elementary School in America in 2013. It was also the first elementary school in South LA to ever win the National Blue Ribbon Award, which is the highest honor an American public school can earn.

However, even though the elementary school that Dr. Palisoc founded was the first in South LA to ever win such a prestigious award, Dr. Palisoc believes that it shouldn’t be the only one. All schools in LA should be great places to learn, not just a few of them.

That’s why Dr. Palisoc founded Ironbox Education in 2014 in order to focus on designing math fluency curriculum for schools and providing professional development for teachers. Through Ironbox Education, Dr. Palisoc has taken the lessons that have already made a difference for thousands of students and is now helping other schools in LA and around the country.

Through this grant, Ironbox Education will take this effective math fluency system and will start bringing it to scale throughout Los Angeles, thereby making LA the best place to learn.

When looking at the kindergarten through college pipeline, the foundation for math must be built early in elementary and middle school. Students who struggle in math in high school and who need remedial classes in college are the same ones who never built a strong foundation when they were younger.

Therefore, Ironbox Education will identify middle schools and the elementary schools that feed into them to implement a coordinated math fluency system that will yield long-term benefits. Students will be provided with Ironbox Education’s materials, and teachers and parents will be provided with training to develop their expertise in building math fluency.

By building math fluency, which is often overlooked in schools, students will become better problem solvers, which will lead to a rise in Academic Performance Index scores. When students feel more successful and confident, then suspension, expulsion, and truancy rates will go down (Dream Metric). When these students reach high school, their math proficiency will increase, and graduation rates will rise. Those who enter college will better be able to complete their programs on time.

As leverage, the schools in this grant will become models for other schools to replicate.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.

Educational researchers explain that assessments are necessary in order to improve instruction and learning. The lessons in this math fluency system build sequentially upon each other, and each lesson serves as an assessment that needs to be successfully completed before going on to the next lesson.

To evaluate ongoing implementation, schools will track classroom-level data on the number of students who successfully complete each lesson and each unit. This will help make sure that the school and its students are progressing on schedule.

Additionally, pre-tests and post-tests will be given to see how much students have improved academically over time.

To evaluate teacher and parent expertise, surveys will be conducted after in-person trainings are held. Participants will be asked about what they learned and what support they need.

Statewide and districtwide assessments will also be used to measure academic growth.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Education/training
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support