Originally Published: November 20, 2011 10:02 p.m.
As Eddie Romero, a fifth grader, answered math questions correctly on the SuccessMaker computer program, a kangaroo at the top of the screen bounded closer to a finish line.
"You have to answer the questions on the screen as fast as you can," Romero said. "You can learn in fun ways using games and stuff on this."
Meanwhile, Quinton Flores, a first grader, read passages on-screen into a microphone, answered questions about what he'd read and later worked on math facts.
"This is fun," Flores said, noting that he liked the games and songs.
Flores, Romero and about 20 other students in the Kids & Co. after school program were working on individually tailored math and reading skills with the SuccessMaker program on Thursday in the computer lab at Miller Valley School.
"Two times a week the kids get 40 minutes on SuccessMaker working on math and reading skills," said Nicole McNally, coordinator for Kids & Co. "We've seen a direct correlation between how well the kids are doing on the program and improvement in their classes."
After they finished, the kids lined up to go to the playground, and the SuccessMaker program generated reports about their progress as well as recordings of them reading to be sent to their teachers, said Karen Sampson, a first grade teacher at Washington Traditional School and instructional coach for SuccessMaker for the Prescott Unified School District.
"Kids get very engaged with the program," Sampson said. "We have all different grade levels working on this program from kindergarteners to fifth graders."
As she said this, a boy nearby cheered and called out to Sampson that he'd earned a 100 percent on a skill he was working on.
"You rock," Sampson told him.
The program, which is aligned with state standards, adapts to students' needs based on how they answer the questions and detects where their visual focus is, said Marci Lewis, curriculum specialist with Pearson, which created the SuccessMaker program.
"As you get better, you go to different levels," said Ally Romero, a fourth grader.
Sampson said teachers are using the program to determine whether students are grasping a concept.
"If some children have mastered the concept and others have not, teachers can pull out the kids who need more help, re-teach the concept, and assess them to see if they've mastered it," Sampson said.
Sampson said she often uses the speed games on the program as a reward for her students as well as a review tool.
"Students get so excited about the game, and I can see quickly if they've mastered the concept," Sampson said.
Students attending Kids & Co. have always had time set aside to work on homework, and when teachers in the district began using SuccessMaker to help students work on areas with which they need extra help, it seemed like a good next step, McNally said.
"There is a huge push statewide for extended education," McNally said. "This is one way we can offer that to our students. We are the only after school program in the area offering this."
In the new year, Kids & Co. will offer parents the opportunity to enroll their children in a program where they will work on SuccessMaker for an hour and a half over two days and receive an hour of individual tutoring each week for $75 a month, McNally said.