Friday, April 30, 2010

The CAT Viewpoint

By Carol A. Twigg

Changing the Equation: Scaling a Proven Innovation

With support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the National Center for Academic Transformation (NCAT) recently announced a major program, Changing the Equation. The program will engage the nation’s community colleges in a successful redesign of their remedial/developmental math sequences (i.e., all mathematics courses offered at the institution prior to the first college-level math course.) The goal of this new redesign program is to improve student learning outcomes in remedial/developmental math while reducing costs for both students and institutions using NCAT’s proven redesign methodology. Institutions will be selected to participate in the program through a competitive application process described in the program’s Application Guidelines and will receive a $40,000 grant to support the implementation of their redesigns. Those institutions will be expected to pilot their redesign plans in spring 2011 and fully implement their plans in fall 2011.


A major obstacle for students who are pursuing degrees or credentials in community colleges is successfully completing the college mathematics requirement. Unfortunately, that frequently means completing both remedial and/or developmental math courses as well as college-level math courses. A 2004 study by the U.S. Department of Education found that over 60% of community-college students needed remediation. Students lacking in the competencies and skills required to enroll in college-level courses face significant challenges persisting to a degree.

Unfortunately, there has been very little change in how institutions design their academic programs and create support systems to meet the needs of their students who enter college without the necessary skills to perform college-level work. Successful completion rates in community colleges for remedial and developmental math courses rarely move beyond 50% and are often less than that. Completing a series of non-credit courses to overcome deficiencies involves significant time and money for students, slowing academic progress and sometimes derailing the momentum that comes with initial enrollment in postsecondary education....

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Florida Tax Credit Scholarships Program
Good news for choice!
To encourage private,
voluntary contributions,
to expand educational opportunities for children of families that have limited financial resources and to enable children in this state to achieve a greater level of excellence in their education,
the 2001 Florida Legislature created Section 220.187, Florida Statutes, establishing the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program.

Scholarship Funding Organization (SFO) Information

The law provides for
state tax credits for contributions
to nonprofit scholarship funding organizations, called SFOs.

The SFO's then award scholarships to eligible children of families that have limited financial resources. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Computer Generated Education: The Technology Revolution in America's Classrooms

Melanie Smollin

The students in Kelly Flowers’ first-grade classroom at Henry Clay Elementary School in Chicago happily spend part of each day in complete silence. They turn off the lights, put on their headphones, and become absorbed by the small blue machines they hold in their hands, pressing buttons in response to the interactive games and activities they see on screen.

Simple to use, durable, and relatively inexpensive at $100 each, a little device called the TeacherMate is revolutionizing the way Ms. Flowers teaches and assesses her students. She tracks kids' performance weekly on her own laptop, and updates the games, levels, and skill sets for each student's TeacherMate, ensuring their smooth progress through the school’s math and reading curricula.

While students work silently on their own, Ms. Flowers is free to tutor children individually or in small groups, which is normally difficult when helming a classroom full of 7-year-olds.

The improvement in academic performance is dramatic, Flowers says. "I've never seen that much growth in that short a time," she told Fast Company.

Ms. Flowers and her techno-savvy first graders are not the subjects of a curious case-study. They are active participants in the early stages of an educational revolution.


According to Fast Company, TeacherMate is currently being used by 500 schools in 15 states. Companies such as Google, Nokia, Palm, and Sony supply thousands of similar educational devices to schools in the United States and abroad each year. The nonprofit organization One Laptop per Child provides more than 1.3 million computers to children in underserved communities worldwide. Laptops, already ubiquitous in college classrooms, will soon be joinedby smaller handheld devices like the iPad.

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

What Makes Finnish Kids So Smart?