The Education Innovator #35
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The Education Innovator
 October 28, 2003 • Number 35
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  Past issues
What's inside...
LeapFrog SchoolHouse Creates Multisensory Tools to Enhance Student Learning
What's New
University of Pennsylvania sponsors conference on university-assisted schools; Center for Education Reform hosts conference on the next 10 years of education reform; the New York State Board of Education released a five-year report on charter schools ; and the California Charter Schools Association has been launched to lead the state's charter movement.
Innovations in the News
Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options, a recent recipient of an OII grant, is working to expand school choice to Hispanic children; plus information on school choice, school leadership, charter schools, and supplemental educational services.

LeapFrog SchoolHouse Creates Multisensory Tools to Enhance Student Learning
Kindergartners sit at table workstations using desktop devices to help them read sentences, sound out words, sound out letters, and give them feedback on their skills. Other children wear headphones while using a "magic pencil" to activate their battery operated, brightly colored desktop players. Are they simulating air traffic control? Is this a classroom of the future? It is a classroom of today where the teacher and students are using the LeapFrog SchoolHouse technology education system.

Today's school children function in a technology-rich world. Should the tools they use at school be less sophisticated than the tools or toys they have at home or after school? Innovations in technology have often influenced innovation in the classroom. From handwriting to typewriters to computers, for example, they have affected how teachers approach teaching in the classroom and how students approach information and learning.

LeapFrog educational toys founded in 1995, spawned LeapFrog SchoolHouse education systems in 1999. LeapFrog SchoolHouse was established in response to educators who wanted to use LeapFrog technology in the classroom. LeapFrog SchoolHouse materials enable instruction in reading, language arts, math, science, and social studies using a multisensory-hearing, seeing, and touching-approach. The goal of this approach is to reinforce learning by actively engaging children in the learning process. To meet the educational need, LeapFrog SchoolHouse publishes preK-8 curriculum and assessments, along with the interactive electronic tools.

The tools, such as the LeapPad desktop player, are accompanied by a teacher's manual, lesson units, book and music cartridges, assessment books, and skill cards in the Ready, Set, LEAP! program, for example.

Another tool, LeapTrack is an interactive "take-home" assessment component. A cartridge can be plugged into the teacher's station, and the system will recommend what books and activities a child should do at night for homework. The result is customized education for every student, with individualized instruction that can be tailored for a student's unique needs.

The Ready, Set, LEAP!, program, for pre-K students, is based on current research about literacy and language development, how children learn, and effective curriculum structure for early childhood education. It is content-oriented and emphasizes cognitive, as well as social, emotional, and physical development. It also includes interactive "take-home" books and other tools to help forge strong home-school connections.

The Literacy Center, another LeapFrog program, is an interactive, supplemental early literacy program for preK-1 that is meant to integrate into any core reading program. It combines technology with instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, and other literacy skills. Children practice their reading skills at technology centers and further develop these skills by participating in small group activities.

LeapFrog SchoolHouse programs and tools have been endorsed by many states and national organizations. The Literacy Center has been adopted by eight states including California, Illinois, and Nevada. Also, The Literacy Center is an approved Reading First program in six states, including Colorado and Washington.

Ready, Set, LEAP! has been adopted in Texas, thus far. Through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Institute for Education Sciences, Ready, Set, LEAP! will be implemented in 20 centers and 44 classrooms in the Newark (NJ) City Public Preschool program.

Funded by Reading First, Broward County (FL) has expanded what started as a summer program to provide LeapPads and books in 150 classrooms. Also, the Chicago Public School System, through a grant from the Department's Enhancing Education through Technology (Ed-Tech) program, will install the LeapTrack assessment and instruction system in 280 classrooms in K-2 across the district.

Overall, LeapFrog SchoolHouse programs are funded throughout the United States by Head Start; Titles I, III, and V; Reading First; ED Tech; and No Child Left Behind- funded after school programs.

For more information about:

Note: LeapFrog has conducted research on the efficacy of The Literacy Center program. Based on an evaluation conducted in three Los Angeles Unified School District schools, preschoolers who participated in The Literacy Center program outperformed a control group of their peers, who received the standard district literacy program, in key reading predictor tests. The Literacy Center students made gains of 74%, increasing their test scores from an average of 16.5% to 28.7%. The control group students made gains of only 37%, increasing their test scores from an average of 15.1% to 20.7%.

A study of the effectiveness of Ready, Set, LEAP! is being funded by the Institute of Education Sciences through the Preschool Curriculum Evaluation Research program. Through randomized trials, the effects of the Ready, Set, LEAP! curriculum will be compared to that currently being offered in preschool centers. Ready, Set, LEAP!, along with seven grants awarded in 2002 and five additional grants awarded in 2003, will be studied for its efficacy as a currently available preschool curriculum program.


What's New
University-Assisted School Conference
The University of Pennsylvania is sponsoring a conference on university-assisted schools, October 30 -31, that will explore governance structures, how universities are involved with curriculum management and teacher development, and local and national implications of public education and community engagement. For information about the conference, see University-Assisted School Conference. (Oct. 30)

Center for Education Reform Conference
On October 30, the Center for Education Reform will host a conference, "The Best Is Yet to Come…A Look at the Next Ten Years of Education Reform in America." The conference also marks the Center's 10th anniversary. For more information about the conference, see Center for Education Reform. (Oct 30)

New York Charter Schools Five Year Report
The New York State Department of Education released a five-year report showing that charter schools outperform some of their host districts and demonstrate dramatic increases after only two years. For more information, see NY Charter Schools Report. (Sept. 3)

California Charter Schools Association Launches a New Plan
The California Charter Schools Association has been launched with a plan and team to lead the decade-old charter school movement in California. Former LAUSD School Board President Caprice Young is the new CEO, and the new group will continue the work begun by the California Network of Educational Charters (CANEC). For more information, go to:
CA Charter Schools Association. (Summer 2003)


Innovations in the News

Supplemental Services
As a single, working mother, Sandy Gutierruz feels she can only do so much to help her daughter with schoolwork. So, when the Gwinnett County school system told her this month her daughter is eligible for free professional tutoring, Gutierruz jumped at the chance.[More-The Atlanta Journal Constitution] (Oct 16)

Making sure that no child is left behind is the priority of area schools, but at East Marion Primary School in Mississippi teachers took the time to make sure no parent was left behind.[More-The Hattiesburg American] (Oct 15)

Virtual Schools
The Arkansas Board of Education gave permission for the Arkansas Virtual Academy to open next fall as a charter school and removed a cap on the number of students who may attend, thus opening it to virtually every student in the state. [More-The Arkansas Democrat Gazette] (Oct 14)

Parental Involvement
Imagine checking on your child's performance at school with just a click of a button. In New Jersey, parents increasingly can do that as more schools go online with student information systems. [More-The Courier Post] (Oct 14)

Charter Schools
The Minnesota Department of Education approved the Lakes International Language Academy charter application and agreed to sponsor the new Forest Lake public elementary school. The decision paves the way for one of the state's first Spanish-immersion charter schools for elementary students and only the second school in the metro area to offer the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program for its core curriculum. [More-The Forest Lake Times] (Oct 15)

Legendary school reformer Ted Kolderie provides insight into the challenge of evaluating charter schools. [More-Education Week] (Oct 8)

A new breed of small, specialized schools-within-schools, called "multiplex schools" by some, are turning heads nationwide. [More-USA Today] (Oct 2)

KIPP Adelante Preparatory Academy, which operates in an office building in downtown San Diego, is another local franchise of the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP). Seven new KIPP schools opened this fall in California alone. [] (Oct 14)

Many urban charter schools in Massachusetts have made impressive gains on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) test and are outperforming their parent districts' regular schools.[More-The Boston Globe] (Oct 17)

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Last Modified: 04/26/2011