Johns Hopkins Gazette: February 13, 1995

'Optimal Match' Methods Help New York City Kids Excel

By Christine Rowett

     A group of seventh- and eighth-grade students in Brooklyn,
N.Y., will receive high school credit in mathematics as a result
of an affiliation with the Center for Talented Youth's Optimal
Match program.
     Last month 57 of the students passed the Regents I exam,
which is normally taken in high school. And in an unprecedented
move by the New York City Board of Education, Chancellor Ramon
Cortines agreed to award high school credit to those who
     Under the Optimal Match program, which has been in place in
Brooklyn's school district 22 for the past three years, students
are taught math at their individual abilities, paces and levels
of learning, said Luciano Corazza, CTY director of academic
programs. The teachers were initially instructed in Optimal Match
teaching methods during training sessions at Hopkins. The program
is currently in place in all five elementary schools in district
22 and serves more than 800 students.
     Using Optimal Match methods, teachers involve both students
who excel in math and those who are learning at their current
grade level, said Lila Edelkind, director of gifted and talented
programs for district 22.
     "The program was designed to allow each student to find a
comfortable pace at which he or she learns mathematics," she
     Many students, Edelkind said, are working with materials
designed for classes two and three years ahead of them. One
sixth-grade student in district 22 is currently studying
ninth-grade math, she said. 
     District 22 superintendent John Comer is a strong supporter
of Optimal Match teaching and was instrumental in getting the
board of education to allow the students to earn Regents credit.
     "It was extremely important for the children that we
identified their work," Comer said. "They were saying, 'I'm
breaking my neck doing all this work and what's the sense?'"
     Comer hopes to implement Optimal Match methods in other
subjects throughout the schools in district 22.
     "Educators talk about individualizing education, and
teaching children one-on-one is a great discussion," he said.
"The Optimal Match is taking that discussion and putting it in
     "It tells this educator what I've always believed, and that
is that children can accomplish so much more than we give them
credit for," he added.
     Edelkind said both Optimal Match teachers and students were
happy with the outcome of the Regents exam.
     "We were really very pleased with the demonstrated ability,"
she said. "This was really the opportunity for them to show what
they knew." 
     In June, many of the students will take the Regents II exam,
which includes some high school geometry, she said.
     Dr. Corazza said the Optimal Match project has been expanded
to include learning disabled students. It may be implemented in
Maryland schools soon, he said.
     "We have had some discussion with some of the schools in
Baltimore County," Dr. Corazza said. "We'll see what happens

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