Are you ready for the Gap App Challenge?

City education officials and the tech sector are teaming up to combat chronically mediocre Bronx middle school math scores.

Mayor Bloomberg and other city officials have launched the Gap App Challenge, a contest asking techies to craft a kid-friendly app that boosts middle schoolers math know-how.

“Mathematics is the language of the world,” said Bloomberg, making the announcement Monday, Jan. 7 on a visit to East Bronx Academy for the Future. “If you don’t speak that, you’re at a big disadvantage.”

Developers will have until April to brainstorm ideas, then submit them to educators and parents for evaluation. A winner will be announced in June.

“Our students are really interested in technology,” said School Chancellor Dennis Walcott, joining the mayor at the West Farms school. “It’s the perfect marriage.”

School principal Sarah Scrogin could not have agreed more, seeing the value in bridging “the private sector with the tech sector,” where tech startups have made millions in developing smartphone apps used around the world. In this case, the apps will be used within the DOE’s iZone Program.

The school program consists of 250 schools, personalizing the learning experience through online courses, intimate student evaluations, and more grueling after-school math and English courses.

The middle school years are often the most critical during a child’s development, said Bloomberg. That time can create a junction between poor and quality students.

“Students who fall behind in middle school math are likely to remain behind through high school, and less likely and ready to graduate college,” said Bloomberg.

In the Bronx, sixth, seventh and eighth grades made some gains in the last state math test. In all, 43% of sixth, seventh and eighth graders passed the level 3-4 state math tests. Citywide, the number was 55.7%.

The winning Best Instructional App will be utilized during the 2013-14 school year at schools like the East Bronx Academy for the Future, part of the DOE’s iZone Program. The top five winners will get over $100,000 in cash prizes.

App development in schools is already happening in the Bronx. Sixth graders at the Bronx Academy of Promise Charter School entered a contest by Verizon where students will personally develop an education app.

To learn more about the Gap App Challenge, go to

Reach reporter David Cruz at 718-742-3383 or

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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