what is math academy?

Math Academy is a Pasadena Unified School District program aimed at radically accelerating the learning curves of the district’s mathematically-gifted students.

what is the goal of the program?

The goal of Math Academy is to prepare students to excel in the honors math and science programs at the most elite universities in the world. The standard high-school mathematics curriculum falls far short of what is typically required to succeed at that level. 

what grades are the students who participate in the program?

The program begins in the 6th grade and continues through the 12th grade.

How many students are currently participating?

There were approximately 65 students in the pilot year (2016-2017), which included six 7th graders, twenty-four 6th graders, and thirty-five 5th graders. The goal is to eventually be able to graduate 50 students per year from the program.

What are the demographics of the district and of the program participants?

The racial and ethnic makeup of PUSD is extremely diverse with roughly two-thirds of the district’s students qualifying as economically disadvantaged. The program’s participants are reflective of the population’s overall characteristics.

How do students qualify for the program?

Students throughout the district are given a mathematical skills and aptitude test at the beginning of their 5th-grade year. Those who demonstrate sufficient ability are invited to participate in the program the following academic year.

Where is the program held?

Math Academy is currently held at three of the district’s seven middle schools: McKinley School, Sierra Madre Middle School, and Washington Middle School. The high school program will be held at Pasadena High School.

What is the program’s curriculum?

In 6th grade, students begin learning algebra, geometry and trigonometry and will complete everything up through BC Calculus by the end of 8th grade. The high school program will consist of both pure and applied mathematics and cover such undergraduate topics as multivariable calculus, linear algebra, combinatorics, differential equations, real and complex analysis, number theory and cryptography, operations research, game theory, probability and statistics.

Who will be teaching these courses?

The middle school courses will be taught by AP-Calculus credentialed math teachers, while the high school courses will be taught by PhD mathematicians. 

Who is creating the curriculum?

The curriculum is being created by Math Academy instructors Jason Roberts and Hiren Maharaj. Jason is the program’s founder and holds a BA in mathematics from the University of Chicago. Hiren holds PhDs in mathematics from Pennsylvania State University and University of Natal (South Africa). Prior to joining to Math Academy, Hiren was a tenured professor of mathematics at Clemson University.

Will my child get academic credit for taking Math Academy classes?

Yes! The PUSD Board of Education approved the Math Academy courses as sequenced courses and they are taught by credentialed instructors so it will appear on the student’s transcript. The University of California has approved our sequence as satisfying the math requirements a-g so the students will get credit for taking the courses.

Have any special methods or tools been developed to facilitate the program?

Yes, the program leverages a number of powerful learning techniques that are rarely seen in institutional education such as distributed practice, mixed review, mastery learning, layering, parallel paths, cognitive non-interference and gamification. These methods are supported via a custom online platform that adapts to each student’s individualized learning curve.

What is being done to support the program financially?

Math Academy is being incorporated as a 501 c3 and is actively seeking both institution and individual support. The program has thus far raised $171,000 to cover costs for the 2017-2018 academic year.

Are there plans for expansion beyond PUSD?

The longer-term aspiration is to spread Math Academy throughout the nation as a new model for mathematics education and achievement. The 501 c3 will support this goal by making available the software platform, curriculum and training for districts interested in offering the program.

If I want Math Academy in my school district, how do I do that?

Please contact us to discuss your particular district’s needs and we will work with you to bring Math Academy to your students.

How can my child participate in Math Academy courses if it is not currently in their school?

We are launching a standalone online course that follows our curriculum and methodology very soon. Please give us your email address below and we will keep you updated on our progress.