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 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.
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.