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Fourth graders at the Quashnet School are working their way toward first place in a national learning competition.

Last year 4th grade students began participating in the IXL Learning Challenge, an online education program used throughout the country. In the program, students answer questions in one of four subject areas: math, English language arts, social studies and science. The number of questions per student is tallied.

The learning challenge holds a competition each year during the month of April. The top three classes across the country get a $250 gift card.

Last year the 4th grade class team that is taught by Michael Loyko and Alexandra Keohane placed fifth in the competition, but the stage is set for this year’s 4th graders to place in the top three.

On April 17, when results were first released for participation in the month of April, Mr. Loyko and Ms. Keohane’s 4th graders were ranked first in the nation, having answered 2,501 questions.

Mr. Loyko said that, after last year’s success, he has been preparing students for the competition since the beginning of the year, making sure they were familiar with the software and the types of questions that would be asked.

When schools were closed in mid-March, Mr. Loyko said, the 4th graders wanted to know if they could still participate in the competition.

“The response from the kids was overwhelming,” he said.

Mr. Loyko said the program offers the students a broad range of skills to practice, as well as questions suited to students with a range of ability.

The questions can range from one as simple as what does the two in 200 mean to multi-operational word problems.

“It really has every type of standard and every type of skill. There is so much there for students to explore,” Mr. Loyko said.

Mr. Loyko credits the enthusiasm of the students to the opportunity for the children to work on something that feels like a communal undertaking while also offering a sense of competition.

“Right now it’s hard to create a class atmosphere and connectivity,” Mr. Loyko said, adding that the competition offers the class the opportunity to “feel like we’re working towards a common goal.”

Mr. Loyko said the 4th graders are off to a great start. The final results were scheduled to be released last week.

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