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For years people have said kids attending schools in high-poverty neighborhoods can’t compete academically. Members of the Math Achievement Club by Rodel (MAC-Ro) are working to prove that stereotype wrong.

In September 13,000 second-, third- and fourth-graders statewide pledged to join MAC-Ro. This program provides a fun and motivating structure in which students from high-poverty schools are taught the state math standards.

Central to MAC-Ro is a monthly workbook that students complete at home with a parent’s help in addition to their regular math homework.

“My son’s math skills improved through the MAC-Ro program,” said Kirk Weddle, Toltec School District Governing Board Member and parent at Toltec Elementary School. “It’s a fun way to do math, and a great way for me to know what my son is learning.”

For their commitment to the program, students receive surprises for completing the workbooks each month and teachers and administrators are provided resources and guidance to help them raise student achievement.

They love it

Beyond giving students the skills needed to succeed, MAC-Ro is changing attitudes about math. While a recent poll found that four in 10 adults hated math in school, MAC-Ro kids are learning to love math.

“MAC-Ro made math fun and exciting for my students,” Loma Linda Elementary School teacher Mary Ann Horn said. “They looked forward to math and showing everyone what they knew and what they had learned.”

A recent University of Arizona study showed the program works. After one year in the program, MAC-Ro schools had almost triple percentile rank gains on the Stanford 9 mathematics test compared with non-participating schools.

On the AIMS math test, MAC-Ro schools increased the number of students meeting or exceeding standards while the comparison group and schools statewide declined.

Additionally, MAC-Ro has been credited with helping some struggling schools to meet federal standards and make Adequate Yearly Progress.

“We were thrilled that our third-grade AIMS math scores jumped from 62 percent meeting or exceeding state standards to 82 percent,” said Kathy Tegarden, principal at Gateway Elementary School. “Our fourth-graders, who had been in MAC-Ro for two years, made tremendous gains also. It’s working!”

For information about MAC-Ro, visit


Carol Peck is president and CEO of the Rodel Foundation of Arizona. Send your questions and ideas to her at