The importance of improving math education is increasingly urgent. America ranks 25 out of 34 industrialized nations on math tests. Tomorrow’s jobs — more than 8 million by 2018 — will require skills in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

Cisco supports an organization, MIND Research Institute, that is using an innovative approach to improving math skills. MIND’s program presents math problems visually, which can show students why their answers are right, as well as why their answers are sometimes wrong. As students move through the math games at their own pace, they receive immediate, informative feedback on each interaction.

Today, about half a million children in 30 states are learning math with the Spatial Temporal Math program, or ST Math. MIND reports that on average, schools implementing ST Math improve their math proficiency as measured by their respective state-mandated tests, at two or three times the rate of their peers.

Cisco support has enabled MIND to, among other things, pilot ST Math with more than 4000 students at 14 schools in Arizona and convert ST Math to an online platform, which expanded the program’s reach from 55,000 students to nearly 500,000, an 800 percent increase, in 5 years.

**Read more about the ST Math Program in a Huffington Post blog by MIND Co-Founder & Chief Technical Officer Matthew Peterson.**

As a teacher at a public school in the Lakewood, California area, as well as a teaching for Allison Tutoring of Lakewood, California, I have experienced firsthand the importance of encouragement to my students. Positive encouragement affects their mood, their self-esteem, their interaction with peers and everyday situations in the classroom. It’s hard to think that MY few words of positive encouragement at school may be the only time they hear it. Every little bit helps.