Former Bishop Connolly official, current Holy Name Fall River principal combines with team to implement unique math tool
FALL RIVER, MA – As former Bishop Connolly official Megan dos Santos took over the principal role at Holy Name School in Fall River, one of her immediate goals was to address high school math readiness skills for the middle school students. dos Santos and the middle school math teacher wanted to investigate new ways to support math skill development due to the foundational nature of math skills building upon one another. After an initial search of potential tools, the Holy Name team chose to implement the “Fill the Math GAPS” tool immediately with the grade 7 and 8 students.
“Fill the Math GAPS”, a digital application developed by a tutoring and test-prep company called The Think Tank, assesses and re-teaches students through a weekly 10-problem quiz that identifies the skills they have mastered and provides them immediate video support where needed. Initiated by Matthew Miklius, PhD and former Northwestern University Engineering Professor, “Fill the Math GAPS” was specifically developed to target learning loss as a result of the pandemic in Geometry, Algebra, Pre-algebra and Statistics (GAPS). “When a student is aware that he or she is not proficient in foundational math skills, there is a direct impact on their academic confidence which can then hold them back from thriving in math,” says Matt. “This tool challenges students to recognize, remember and correctly apply all math skills that they have learned. The tool also helps students understand why they have learned these math skills and know exactly how and when to apply each skill, ultimately becoming better problem solvers. Schools typically have seen a 300% increase in their students’ MAP math growth rate from one testing session to the next.”
Megan dos Santos concurs, “Our 7th and 8th grade students have started their eleventh week of this new program. They have expressed that they enjoy the video and the ability to relearn skills they may have struggled with previously. Math is skill-based and it is critical that students master skills for long-term success in math. Now that we have nine weeks of data from GAPS and our fall MAP test results, we are able to take a step back and focus on curriculum and create our curriculum to best serve the needs of our students.”
Another Catholic school in the Diocese of Fall River uses “Fill the Math GAPS” for middle school students. St. Teresa of Calcutta School in New Bedford, MA, implemented the tool in February 2023 initially for the 8th grade as a result of a school merger the previous year. When comparing Winter MAP scores with Spring MAP scores, students scored higher than ever before using Fill the Math GAPS. For the 2023-24 school year, grade 7 has been added to use the Fill the Math GAPS tool.
According to Daniel Roy, Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Fall River, the need for continuous improvement in academics is one of his main goals. “Math scores in this country are consistently lower than in other countries so it is incumbent upon school leadership to support students and math teachers in every way possible. The two Catholic schools that are using the ‘Fill the Math GAPS’ tool have found it to be very effective in the retention of math skills – even after summer vacation. Our goal at the Catholic Schools Office is to have all of our middle school students leverage this tool to enhance their math competency as they enter high school.”