Feb 10, 2010 10:14 PM by Katie Stukey/KRTV

Great Falls schools seeing success with stimulus-funded program

Nearly a year after receiving close to $7 million dollars in federal stimulus funds, Great Falls public schools are beginning to see one of their investment pay off - it's a web-based program called Success Maker, and it has students and faculty seeing success.

Watching the computer screen of Success Maker, with racing cars, dancing characters, and microphones, it looks more like a young child's video game than a teaching tool, and that's exactly what some of the students think, too.

Mountain View Elementary School principal Carole McKittrick said, "One little student, as we were bringing it on in the fall, I said 'What do you think?' and he looks at me and says 'This is better than my X-Box 360'!"

And it's that kind of reaction that makes the purchase seem well worth it.

Great Falls schools seeing success with stimulus-funded programIt's nothing new for kids to spend part of their school day logging time at a computer, but the stimulus-funded "Success Maker" changes how students learn here.

Administrators say that some have expressed concern that kids are just adding to their daily "screen time," while taking away time devoted to personal interaction. But this program is credited with achieving something that teachers cannot do on their own by tailoring lessons to each student.

Third-grader Callery appreciates that, and said, "It gives me more of a challenge than the other kids."

Teachers do remain a vital part of the program, thanks to daily progress reports.

McKittrick continued, "In terms of bang for our buck, this was a good thing. It really was."

Some schools in Helena and Browning also have Success Maker, but GFPS assistant superintendent Ruth Uecker says it's highly unusual for an entire district to get the program due to its high cost.


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