Math Program Extended

By Akilah Johnson
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Plantation initiative gives children boost

A Plantation learning center that usually focuses on math prodigies decided to continue a program it started last year to help struggling math students.

Called Boosted Learning for Achievement on Standardized Tests, or BLAST, the program is open to second-graders who score below the 70th percentile on standardized tests. Scores from last year’s 23 participants improved nearly 16 percent on average, so the center decided to do it again.

“The test results from the students who participated in our pilot program … were spectacular,” Terry Kaufman, president of the Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science, said in an e-mail.

The program was created after center founder Burt Kaufman’s retirement. He built the center an the academic foundation of logic and critical-thinking skills. Since its creation in 1993, the center has taught gifted mathematicians who often are academically years ahead, like middle school students doing college-level computer programming.

Burt Kaufman first used the center’s curriculum in public schools to teach gifted math students, but the district cut it after more than a decade to save money. The center has formed partnerships with private schools and offers courses for home-schooled students. BLAST is the next evolution of Kaufman’s work.

Kaufman died in July after a 4-year battle with cancer. He was 74.

“It’s been a difficult time for all of us, but knowing that he lived his dream and that future generations will benefit from his life’s work is somewhat comforting,” Terry Kaufman said.

Last year, the center evolved and created the program for struggling students. By working in small groups, center officials said, students were able to develop the self-discipline and confidence needed to excel.

There will be some tweaks to this year’s program, which will begin Sept. 24. Instead of meeting twice a week for about a month, students will meet once a week for just more than two months.

Parents who want their children to participate must attend a free demonstration class with their son or daughter. Parents must also bring a copy of the student’s first-grade Stanford Achievement Test results. Classes will be held at 4p.m, today and 10:30 a.m. Saturday in Weston at 2585 Glades Circle, then in Coconut Creek, 7600 Lyons Road, at 1 p.m. Saturday.

This article originally published September 14, 2007, and has been republished with permission.