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Pirate Math

Essa Rating
No. Studies
No. Students
Average Effect Size

Program Description

Pirate Math is a one-to-one tutoring program for third graders struggling with math calculations and word problems. Students receive 48 20-30 minute sessions (three per week) over 16 weeks. Tutors may be teachers or paraprofessionals, who work with students outside of ordinary math periods. The tutoring sessions focus on “counting up” strategies in which students start with the bigger number and add or subtract on their fingers. Students learn to solve word problems by finding missing numbers. Students receive gold coins for good work, and place them on a treasure map. When they reach a picture of a treasure box, they earn a small prize.

Program Outcomes

One qualifying study of Pirate Math took place in Nashville and Houston. Low-achieving students in Pirate Math were compared to similar control students. On Key Math, students in Pirate Math scored significantly higher than controls, with an effect size of +0.37. This qualified Pirate Math for the ESSA “Strong” category.

Staffing Requirements

Paraprofessionals or certified teachers

Professional Development/Training

Sites schedule a 1-day tutor training workshop to be conducted on site by the program trainer. Training materials, including program manuals, are shipped to the training site (typically the school or district). Costs for the workshop are $1500, plus trainer’s travel expenses.

The tutor training workshop provides detailed program information, an overview of background research and theory, trainer modeling, and tutor practice. Trainees also are provided materials highlighting program information and implementation requirements and guidelines. Tutors practice entire lessons using program manuals, scripts, and supporting materials. The trainer provides instruction and feedback to tutors on techniques, procedures, and lesson content coverage.