The Education Innovator #46
Volume II
Archived Information

The Education Innovator
 December 6, 2004 • Number 46
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What's inside...
Get Ahead Math Tutorial Program
What's New
Deputy Secretary Hickok announces his resignation; Education Department releases Grantmaking at ED; America's 15-year-olds perform below the international average in mathematics according to PISA; National Center for Education Statistics releases reports on women's education equity and early childhood; Assistant Deputy Secretary Nina Rees speaks at American Enterprise Institute; a change is made in the Advanced Placement Incentive grant announcement; OII will conduct Advanced Placement Incentive Program workshops; Magnet Schools Assistance Program grant competition spurs International Baccalaureate activity; Heritage Foundation launches new school choice website; Operation HOPE wins John Sherman Award for Excellence in Financial Education; State Representative Attkisson (FL) writes that five states are hiring new teachers through ABCTE's alternative teacher certification program; report from ETS on the reading classroom shows that not all students have the same resources.
Innovations in the News
The school district in North Pinellas (FL) gives specific information to parents about its choice process through the local paper, plus information on choice, education technology, parental involvement, school leadership/teacher quality, and supplemental educational services.

Get Ahead Math Has Students and Parents Working Off the Same Screen
Today's students lead lives quite different from the ones their parents led when they were young. They tote cell phones, chat online, and play high-tech video games. Although parental involvement is essential to a child's educational development, many parents find it difficult to relate to how and what their children are learning in school. This disconnect is particularly true when it comes to learning math.

Consider the familiar scenario: Rachel asks Dad for help with a division problem, but Dad's explanation only proves more confusing because it diverges from what Rachel's teacher has been teaching her all week. Both parties end up frustrated, and Rachel is less likely to go to her parents for help with math in the future.

With this dilemma in mind, Claremont Graduate University President Steadman Upham saw an opportunity to use math research conducted by Claremont's School of Education to develop a commercial educational product that would combine the most current math content knowledge with the technology tools that students use everyday. He approached Walt Rose, a local businessman, who was also involved with community work to benefit children, for help with this issue.

As a result, Rose founded Get Ahead Learning, a family-owned company of developers with degrees in education, human and organizational development, business administration, and instructional technology. The company was formed to create high quality educational software products that would engage parents and other adults in the learning process. The first product became Get Ahead Math, which came on the market in April of this year.

Aligned with the California state education standards, Get Ahead Math is a CD-ROM-based product that provides learning modules for grades three through eight. The program delivers instruction via video streaming with detailed step-by-step examples, developmental practice worksheets, and comprehensive assessments. The basic concepts covered in the lessons allow students to review, practice, and master the key building blocks of mathematics. And, to bridge the technology gap between parent and child, the program includes 42 brief tutorials to help parents understand current classroom methods and technology.

A sample tutorial, which is focused on one concept, lasts about 5 minutes. The video shows a teacher who explains the concept conversationally, using popular imagery that a student would understand. As the teacher is doing the work, the camera moves in to show a close-up of what the teacher is writing. The teacher explains the concept by approaching it from different perspectives. The teacher talks to the student in the video and then to the student in the "audience" as a coach would talk to a team player.

The software is targeted to families, but it has also been used in after-school programs that deal with similar problems of math-learning methodology. Since the Get Ahead Math program videos review the key mathematical concepts and topics, tutors can develop their own mathematics expertise.

Get Ahead Math has been approved as a supplemental educational services provider by the State of California. "Supplemental educational services" under No Child Left Behind are free tutoring and other academic assistance available for low-income children who attend Title I schools that have been designated by the state as in need of improvement for two years or more. This tutoring may be offered in math, as well as reading/language arts and other core subjects, before or after school, on weekends, or in the summer. In California, over 200 public and private entities are approved as supplemental educational service providers.

While the product was designed for students to work with adults to study math, students can also work independently, because the program is self-paced and can target specific skill levels. This feature is particularly useful in a group tutorial setting, because it allows adults to work one-on-one with those students who need more individualized help.

To date, several after-school programs have adopted Get Ahead Math, including six Boys and Girls Clubs in California, which have been using the program as a regular part of their after-school schedule. In addition, schools in such districts in California as Los Angeles Unified, Monrovia, Pasadena, Mountain View, West Covina, and San Luis Coastal have begun using Get Ahead Math in the classroom as a supplement to regular teaching. Home-schooling families have also discovered it.

Even though the program just came on the market in April, it has already won national recognition. The National Parenting Center awarded Get Ahead Math with its Seal of Approval, and the National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) gave it their Gold Award.

The creators of Get Ahead Math see replacing math frustration with math confidence as the key to helping students, and they are committed to providing a solution that also improves test scores. According to Chris Mihm, one of the Get Ahead Math team members, preliminary independent studies of the product show promise of effectiveness. Prior to launch, Robert Lazers of the Mark Sheridan Math and Science Academy in Chicago conducted two studies of the product. Then, after launch, Jeffrey S. Lagozzino, principal of La Primaria Elementary in El Monte (CA) conducted a third study of student performance in his school's summer program. These initial studies indicated that students who use Get Ahead Math can improve their academic achievement.

The Office of Innovation and Improvement provides information and technical assistance on supplemental educational services and No Child Left Behind. OII also administers grants to support educational technology. Students who use Get Ahead Math as part of a supplemental services program receive the services free. Get Ahead Math was developed without federal funding.

Resources: Note: The featured program is an example of one approach to teaching math and supplemental educational services. To be designated an approved provider of supplemental services in California, the program had to demonstrate "evidence of effectiveness." The success of the program may not be replicable, depending on unique conditions in differing locations.

Information about mathematics programs with evaluations that have met the standards of scientific rigor for effectiveness is available from the What Works Clearinghouse of the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences.


What's New
From the U.S. Department of Education

Deputy Secretary of Education Gene Hickok announced his resignation as of January 2005. U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige said of him that he has "dutifully and tirelessly worked on behalf of America's children, ensuring that they are part of a system that gives each and every one of them the attention they deserve and academic tools for success." (Dec. 2)

The U.S. Department of Education has released a new booklet, Grantmaking at ED, Answers to Your Questions About the Discretionary Grants Process, which defines the different types of grants available from the Department and explains how grants are competed and awarded. (Dec. 6)

America's 15-year-olds performed below the international average in mathematics literacy and problem solving, according to the latest results from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) of students from 41 countries. (Dec. 6)

The National Center for Education Statistics released Trends in Educational Equity of Girls & Women: 2004. The report gives an overview of educational gains made by girls in recent years, as well as areas where educational gaps continue to exist. (Nov. 2004)

The National Center for Education Statistics released Children Born in 2001: First Results from the Base Year of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study. The study of a nationally representative sample presents characteristics of children and families, information about children's mental and physical skills, and their experiences in child care, as well as the extent of fathers' involvement. (Nov. 2004)

From OII

Assistant Deputy Secretary Nina Rees spoke on a panel at the American Enterprise Institute on the administration's plans for No Child Left Behind and what new policies the administration will pursue. (Dec. 6)

Please note a change in the announcement regarding the Advanced Placement Incentive Grant competition. The U.S. Congress is about to approve nearly $30 million for this program, which means that OII will be able to make $6 million in new awards to 5-10 projects in 2005. (Dec. 3)

During December, OII program officers will conduct Advanced Placement Incentive Program workshops download files MS Word (43K) sponsored by the College Board. (Dec. 1)

OII's former Associate Assistant Deputy Secretary Thomas Corwin writes that the Magnet Schools Assistance Program grant competition spurred major International Baccalaureate (IB) activity in U.S. school districts. Nineteen of the 50 grantees will use at least some of the funds to create IB programs in 41 different schools. (Nov. 23)


The Heritage Foundation has launched a new school choice website to be a one-stop shop for information on parental choice in education. The site includes commentary, analysis, research, and book reviews. (Nov. 2004)

Economics Education

Treasury Under Secretary for Domestic Finance Brian Roseboro presented the John Sherman Award for Excellence in Financial Education to Operation HOPE for its Banking on Our Future program. The award was presented at the Imani Education Circle Charter School in Philadelphia where the Under Secretary taught a session with the Operation HOPE founder on how to manage money effectively. Operation HOPE received a Fund for the Improvement of Education grant from OII in 2003. (Nov.23 )

Teacher Quality

State Representative Frank Attkisson, who serves on the Florida State House Education Committee, wrote in the Orlando Sentinel that Florida, Idaho, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Utah are meeting the challenge of hiring new and highly qualified teachers through the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence's alternative teacher certification program, a program funded by OII. A 2003 Florida Department of Education report found positive results from alternatively certified teachers who successfully targeted "critical-need subject areas" such as mathematics, science, and special education. (Dec. 3)

The Fourth-Grade Reading Classroom report from the Educational Testing Service gives characteristics of teachers and their reading instructional practices. The study shows that not all students share equally in educational resources, with some schools experiencing higher teacher turnover and larger classes. (Sept. 2004)


Innovations in the News

An article in a North Pinellas (FL) paper gives specific information to parents about the school district's choice process for magnet, fundamental, and career academy programs for the 2005-06 school year. The information includes application trends and answers to frequently asked questions. [More-St. Petersburg Times] (Dec. 1)

The Utah open enrollment season has begun. State law requires the application period to be from December 1 through the middle of February. According to a state official, "Utah actually has more movement than any other state." [More-Daily Herald] (Dec. 1)

The Lake Washington School District (WA) has 11 choice schools, all designed around a specific philosophy or theme, including the Family Learning Center, a support program for home-schooled children. The schools are so popular that 450 students are on the waiting list. [More-Seattle Times] (Nov. 26)

Education Technology
Govenor Edward Rendell (PA) signed an amended public utilities act that authorizes several initiatives that will help schools improve their access to education technology. The bill requires local telephone companies to provide broadband service to schools at a discount and to contribute to an Education Technology Fund (E-Fund) to support broadband services to individual schools. [More-PR Newswire] (Nov. 30)

Former Pittsburgh Steelers player, Brady Keys, Jr., along with educational software company EPOS, launched Helping Involve Parents (HIP), an interactive program that allows parents and teachers to form their own communications network via the telephone or Internet. [More-Time] (Nov. 28)

Parental Involvement
At Manzanita, a public charter school in Richmond (CA) parents are integral to the school's success. The school is a cooperative run by teachers and parents. Parents must commit to working 10 hours a month at the school and must attend monthly membership meetings. [More-Contra Costa Times] (Nov. 29)

Northwest Community Schools in Michigan has drafted a plan to increase parental involvement. The plan includes involving parents in the Title I planning process, creating a "Parent Information" section on the district website, and doing an annual review of parental involvement in the district. [More-Jackson Citizen Patriot] (Nov. 19)

School Leadership/Teacher Quality
The Summit Education Initiative of Summit County (OH) links the county's "chief education officers"—;superintendents and heads of private schools—with their counterparts in the corporate world so they can learn from each other. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company sponsors the project. [More-Akron Beacon-Journal] (Nov. 28)

San Diego public school teacher Mary Catherine Swanson developed the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program in 1980 to target students in the middle range who may be capable of doing advanced work. Today, the program is used in about 1,700 schools in 24 states, with schools that use the program offering more honors and Advanced Placement classes. Teachers go through training and are encouraged to be advocates, not just lecturers. [More-Milwaukee Journal Sentinel] (Nov. 28)

Supplemental Educational Services
The Association of Education Service Agencies (AESA) and Catapult Learning have been awarded an OII grant to establish a streamlined contracting and purchasing system so that small and rural school districts have greater access to high quality supplemental educational services under No Child Left Behind. [More-Biz.Yahoo] (Dec. 1)

Platform Learning has been approved to provide supplemental educational services to students attending public schools in Newark, Paterson, Irvington, and Jersey City, New Jersey. More than 70 public schools in these cities are identified as in need of improvement, and more than 44,000 students are eligible for the services. [More-PR Newswire] (Nov. 16)

Students in Jackson (NJ) can do better, according to the Board of Education. Students in the two middle schools and the one high school, all of which have been designated as needing improvement, will be eligible for supplemental educational services. Priority will be given to the lowest achieving eligible students. [More-Tri-Town News] (Nov. 10)


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Last Modified: 05/02/2008