Program targets middle school students' success

Across Central Texas, schools are looking to transform teaching so every child benefits. Students at Paredes Middle School are already reaping the benefits of a new approach to learning.

Jonathan Moreno is a future computer engineer.

"I love any kind of technology. I just love working with technology," Moreno, Paredes Middle School student, said.

The sixth-grader will soon become a product of a new real-world driven curriculum implemented just three months ago at Paredes Middle School. It's called R.A.I.S.E. Up Texas.

"We've been using unit organizers, we've been using notes a lot this year," Moreno said.

R.A.I.S.E. stands for Research-Validated Approach to Instruction Secondary Excellence. It's facilitated by Austin-based E3 alliance. The program uses tools to help students retain ideas. It's something math teachers like Chrissy Womack appreciate.

"It answers that age old question of 'why do we need to learn this? Every teacher receives that question. Why do we need to learn this what do we need to do’"? Womack, math teacher at Paredes said.

She believes it gives real-world explanations to math problems.

"They make the connection. There are a lot of connections that are made. It gives you the beef of what's important," Womack said.

"What's it's really about is students understanding how they learn with mind maps and thinking maps," Paul Cruz, A.I.S.D. superintendent, said.

Educators are taking an extra step and teaching the kids how to take on real-world roles, using the simile, grades are like money.

"I've been learning a lot about professionalism and how we're going to need it later in the future in our careers," Moreno said.

At a cost of just $200 per student, advocates are hoping that money can transform the education system in Texas and beyond.

"If you have confidence in yourself and you're like I’m going to have a career and be successful in life you're going to be successful in life," Moreno said.

Seven other Central Texas schools are already using the new curriculum.  Data shows Texas schools with the program scored higher on tests.

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