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Training Program Proposal


The anecdotal consensus is that black male students are two years behind their grade level in terms of knowledge of mathematics. This shortfall is a substantial contributing factor to several Oakland high schools’ with substantial components of African-Americans in their student bodies having math proficiency ratings, of 4%-17% as compared to the California state average of 33%.



The initial meeting would be to show the video on the “5'7'' White Kid Dunks After 6 Months Of Training” intercut with three pre-existing, African-American commentators on the initial video (as of 6/15/16 there were over 6.0 million views of the initial video and 3.8 million views of the commentators). Though there is some street language and politically incorrect commentary, all videos support the concept that hard work and honest effort are required, and that this combination can achieve outstanding results. A question and answer session will be held. It will be emphasized that this is a program for STUDENT-athletes and not some “keep ‘em busy” time filler.


After the question and answer session, students who wish to participate will be given a multiple choice math diagnostic exam. Upon completing the exam, the students will go to the gym where their initial jumping ability will be measured through the use of the Tandem Sport Vertical Challenger, Vertical Jump Trainer or comparable device. The P/T trainer will then give a demonstration of the typical exercises lunges and squats that will comprise the major components of the dunk training.


A headshot will be taken of each participant. Before leaving the initial orientation session, each participant will be given a math assignment to complete that will serve as the entry pass for the next session of dunk training.


In order to instill the integration of the mathematics and the dunking as components of one program, the introductory mathematics exercise would be based on data generated by the introductory jump training class. The available data would include, starting height, weight, standing reach and jumping height.


As an introductory tool, it creates an initial focus on increasing participant ability to manipulate bivariate data and to link that data to actual events. It should also, increase competition within the group by heightening awareness of participant status within the group of participants. In order to align with the goal of improving every participant’s performance, emphasis will be placed on personal improvement rather than within group status.


In the March-April timeframe, the names of perspective students that will comprise an entering high school freshman class (a large urban high school will admit approximately 300 students) for the fall 2016 semester are identified. It is expected that approximately 50% of these new students will be males and likely to have varying degrees of attraction to a summer program that would improve their sports and academic skills. Out of the available group, 40 names would be chosen at random for a control group. All other male students will be contacted to assess interest in participation. There will be no attempt to further eliminate any potential participants on the basis of ethnicity or should any female request for inclusion, gender. The program is aimed at black males but no person within the target group of entering 9th graders will be discouraged from participation.

This entering group of freshmen was chosen because it is a critical moment in their lives. They are leaving middle school and going to high school. This is a significant step toward adulthood. At this juncture they should be more open to the positive stimulus of a new environment than would be the case when high school becomes part of their daily routine. 

Once the participants identified, there will be a concerted effort involving mail, email, and telephone contact to enroll them. There will be a follow-up contact with the interested students’ middle school math teachers to ascertain what their achieved level of math proficiency is.  After consultation with their middle school teachers, materials for the math component will be culled from 6th-7th-8th year’s common core standards and, from online sources. Should there be a small group of students whose skills are at or above grade level materials for them will be provided following the core standards that they would follow as per the existing high school math curriculum.

It is expected that 35-45 students will show-up for an initial diagnostic orientation session.  Over the projected 11 weeks of the program, it is estimated that roughly 20% of the participants will not complete the program.



The Math-Dunk Project is designed as a summer program focusing primarily but not exclusively on male, African-American middle to high school students with the aim of improving their computational skills.


A math skills enhancement course embedded in a physical training program that improves participants jumping skills, leading them on a path toward the goal of being able to “dunk” a basketball.

The program would begin on the first week of summer vacation and conclude on the last week before the fall term. It would consist of 1-3 sessions (depending upon funding), per week, to be held at the high school or a community recreation facility.

Projected outcomes

The purpose of the Math-Dunk program will be to help create a core group as a step toward a potential transformation of a school culture. This will be a group neither of math geniuses nor slam-dunking ballers but instead a self-chosen group who, are willing to persevere over a relatively demanding set of tasks to accomplish a self-chosen goal. Students completing dunk program will probably want to continue physical training through their PE classes. If a single participant actually learns to dunk the ball while achieving a sufficient acquisition of computational skills, the word will spread.  

The project is projected to last just under 3 months but it should feed directly into the fall semester.  The academic impact should be measured through the standard math exam given entering freshmen in September. Providing that data is available, for the project to be considered, in this author’s opinion, to be successful, mean scores on a September exam should be at least 1.65 standard deviations above what otherwise would have been expected. This would be a result that equals the 90% percentile of a normal distribution, or a one in ten chance that this would have been achieved without participation in the Math-Dunk project.

Sample Materials
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