Friday, April 27, 2012

TED.ED - serious game changer

Many teachers can post videos and create their lessons. And many websites provide videos and lessons. But what if you could combine the two - use professionally created videos and create or modify lessons that go with it.  What if you could build your own custom online program for a flipped classroom / blended learning environment that took the best out there, tracked your student performance and it was all FREE! 

That's ED.TED people - it could be a crazy game changer in education! The video is mind-blowing in its the limitless possibilities for teachers flipping the classroom like LTF's own Melissa Parma. 

Watch the video and accelerate the learning for your students!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mandatory Algebra without Preparation = Fail

To the surprise of no one (I hope), two new studies point to the fact that just mandating Algebra I in eighth does not create success for students who are not prepared for Algebra I.  Both California and North Carolina pushed for earlier Algebra I and both are seeing negative results according to an Edweek article: Study Questions Value of Early Algebra Lessons

"the Duke researchers found that even moderately math-proficient students in Charlotte-Mecklenburg who were put into early-algebra classes performed significantly worse on state end-of-year math tests. Moreover, initially low-performing students who took Algebra 1 in 8th grade were significantly less likely to take more-advanced math courses, such as Algebra 2 or geometry, later."

There are always unintended consequences of mandates without in-depth planning. There needs to be significant improvement in math instruction in order for these efforts to succeed.  LTF Math Training ensures that scaffolded lessons are introduced starting in 6th grade to ensure more students are ready for 8th grade algebra. LTF training ensures that all middle school math teachers thoroughly understand the content and pedagogy required to get these students ready. Math teachers are given the inquiry based lessons to use in their classroom after the training.

Mandatory 8th grade algebra only works if all middle school teachers have the training and resources necessary to ensure all students are ready.

Amazing Teachers!

LTF has so many amazing teachers that we had to do something to recognize the great work that they do day in and day to help close the college readiness gap for students around the nation.  So this year we created our LTF Teacher and Trainer of the Year Award.  We will honor these great teachers in Dallas in two weeks.

Here is a sneak preview of the video:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

10 Best Apps for Teachers

eSchool News has one of those annoying slide shows with their take on the 10 Best Apps for Education. I will spare you the annoyance by listing them here without the pain of waiting for each page and having to look at their ads (and believe me it was painfully slow this morning). 
  1. World Lens - instantly translates signage from one language to another which is great for language teachers.  FREE
  2. Molecules - view and manipulate three dimensional models of molecules for science classes - FREE
  3. Blackboard Mobile Learn - if you have already been trapped by the Blackboard beast, your students can use this for the courses.  FREE
  4. Today in History - lists what happened on this day in history. FREE
  5. Math Ref Free - a free version of math ref which has 600 formulas, figures, tips and examples - great math study guide. FREE
  6. P186 Graphing Calculator - clone of the TI-83 for graphing but its FREE
  7. Star Walk - an astral telescope that adapts its view to wherever the use holds it up highlighting planets and constellations. $2.99
  8. Cram - allows you to create flashcards and self-tests that you can use and share with others. $3.99
  9. Essay Grader - comes with pre-written comments and helps teachers cut down on grading time -you can export/print or email results. $5.99
  10. eClicker - provides instant results for the class showing where you have been successful and what areas need more focus for your students. $9.99
Pretty cool - especially eClicker since the clickers are so danged expensive but quite useful. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

The College Paradox

Great article in The Atlantic; "The Paradox of College: The Rising Cost of Going (and Not Going!) to School" by senior editor Derek Thompson that talks about the NMSI AP incentive program.  The main thing that jumped out at us, besides the support for this wildly successful program is this:

"In the last 30 years, the typical college tuition has tripled. But over the exact same period, the earnings gap between college-educated adults and high school graduates has also tripled. In 1979, the wage difference was 75%. In 2003, it was 230%."

Many, including me, have discussed the value of a college degree and wonder if it is truly worth it based upon the incredible cost increases over the last few years.  But it does appear that the gap between what you can earn with a degree versus what you can earn without does warrant the investment.

He goes on to discuss the research by C. Kirabo Jackson the positive impacts of AP incentives on college access and success.  The program puts the focus on college and college preparatory courses for high school students and truly changes the culture in the school.

Since 40% of students don't start college and 70% don't have a bachelor's degree - it seems like we need to have NMSI!

Education Leader Cadres for Common Core

The LTF team has spent considerable time working on a proposal to become the partner for PARCC to develop Education Leader Cadres to help implement Common Core State Standards.  This is an incredible opportunity to help educators help each other. The Education Leader Cadres (ELC) utilizes a train the trainer model to create experts in each of the 26 PARCC states that can share their expertise with other teachers in their states.  The ELC will help disseminate the model lessons that will be used to ensure a more rigorous classroom experience for students.

Standards alone never change instruction.  Teachers change instruction.  Having a piece of paper say that students will determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; provide an accurate summary of the text distinct from prior knowledge or opinions - can be done with an easy text or a complex text. Teachers need the resources to pick the right text for their students.

LTF provides model lessons for Common Core which is why we so strongly believe in creating the ELC to help all teachers transition to more rigorous classroom lessons to dramatically improve college readiness through CCSS.  We hope we clearly demonstrated that in our proposal.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Encouraging AP Success for ALL Students

Published Online: April 17, 2012

Published in Print: April 18, 2012, as Encouraging AP Success for All Students


Encouraging AP Success for All Students

By Mary Ann Rankin

Horace Mann, the 19th-century American education reformer whom many credit with founding the nation's public school system, recognized the importance of education, deeming it the great equalizer. Today, this has never been more true.

Our efforts to help prepare the next generation for success in college and beyond, by fostering enrollment and strong performance in Advanced Placement coursework, have achieved success over the past decade, according to recent data from the College Board, which sponsors the AP program. But there is still work to be done when it comes to traditionally underrepresented minority students.

Last year, more than 900,000 U.S. public high school graduates (or 30 percent of the nation's graduates) reported taking at least one AP exam—a dramatic increase over the 430,000 graduates (or 17 percent of the nation's graduates) a decade before. In 2011, more than 540,000 graduates (or nearly 60 percent of those who took an AP exam) achieved a qualifying score on an AP exam, according to "The 8th Annual AP Report to the Nation."

However, the data also illuminate issues of uneven accessibility and performance, particularly among minority students. Nearly half a million high school students were either left out of an AP class for which they were deemed capable or attended a school that did not offer such subjects, according to the AP report, which was released in February. Minority students were disproportionately affected: Nearly 80 percent of African-American students and 70 percent of Hispanic students who could have done well in an AP course did not take one because they lacked the opportunity, encouragement, or motivation to participate, the report from the College Board said.

Why is it so critical to ensure access and success in these rigorous, college-level courses?

Research indicates that students who succeed on an AP exam during high school are more likely than their peers to achieve academic success in college; they are also more likely to earn a college degree and incur lower college costs by finishing in four years or less. In fact, if a high school student passes just one AP course, the probability of his or her graduating from college is more than three times higher than for students with comparable SAT scores who did not take AP coursework. For minority students, graduation rates are as much as four times higher for students who have passed at least one AP exam.

It is common for schools to limit enrollment in AP courses to students who already appear to be headed for success. This practice, while well-intentioned, excludes many capable students from this important achievement. It is incumbent upon us to give all students—and, in particular, underrepresented students—the opportunities and tools to succeed in school and in life.

The National Math and Science Initiative, or NMSI, of which I am the president, is particularly interested in achieving this goal. Through our programs, we have dramatically increased the enrollment and success of minority students in AP math, science, and English coursework: In the last three years, participating schools in six states have recorded a 216 percent increase in the number of passing AP exams among African-American and Hispanic students, compared with a 50 percent increase among the same group nationally.

It is clear from these results that increasing access to advanced coursework—in combination with appropriate teacher training and mentoring—can dramatically expand opportunities for students who were previously considered unable to succeed at this level.

"Research indicates that students who succeed on an AP exam during high school are more likely than their peers to achieve academic success in college."

The hands-on learning that takes place in AP coursework requires students to think critically, construct logical arguments, test theories, and see many sides of an issue. This is the kind of thinking necessary to solve tough problems both in and outside the classroom, in college and throughout careers.

In its September 2011 report, the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economics and Statistics Administration found that educational attainment may affect the equality of opportunity for minorities, particularly in securing critical, high-quality jobs of the future that require a background in science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM. For example, African-Americans account for 11 percent of the U.S. workforce , but represent only about 6 percent of the STEM workforce.

Studies consistently show that people with a degree in a STEM field can expect to earn more income—even those with an associate degree in STEM earn more than those with a bachelor's degree in education or the liberal arts, according to the National Center for Educational Accountability. The benefits accrue not only to individuals, but also to families, communities, states, and the nation as a whole. It should be our national mission to ensure that every child has an equal opportunity to succeed.

Mary Ann Rankin is the president and chief executive officer of the National Math and Science Initiative, a public-private partnership focused on improving teaching and learning in those subjects. The initiative is based in Dallas. Ms. Rankin can be reached at

Friday, April 13, 2012

Tony Bennett: NMSI and LTF in Indiana

Great day yesterday at the Indiana Department of Education where Superintendent Tony Bennett announced the launch of the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) in that state. Indiana continues to lead the way in education reform under the high energy work of Dr. Bennett. 

Scott Elliott, reporter for the Indy Star has the details in "Indiana pushes Advanced Placement program for high school students"

Teachers - take the challenge and start your Pre-AP training at Speedway High School as a part of the program this summer.  By next fall, you can help your students get on track for AP courses by delivering more rigorous lessons in your middle and early high school classes.

Truly a great day in Indiana!!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

STEM FACTS - you must know

LTF Training - the premier Pre-AP teacher training group - has all the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) facts you need to know! 

Read more:

Here are some of the first facts but make sure you check out LTF to get them all:
  • 45 percent of 2011 U.S. high school graduates are ready for college-level math.
  • 30 percent of 2011 U.S. high school students are ready for college-level science.
  • 26 percent of 2009 U.S. students took Algebra I before high school. (Up from 20 percent in 2005.)
  • Only 12 percent of black students and 17 percent of Hispanic students took Algebra I before high school in 2009. But, 48 percent of Asian students took Algebra I before high school in 2009.
  • In 2009, 34 percent of American fourth grade students, 30 percent of eighth grade students, and 21 percent of twelfth grade students performed at or above the proficient level in science.
  • 9 percent of Hispanic and 10 percent of black U.S. students took advanced Algebra or calculus in 2008, compared to 22 percent of white students and 43 percent of Asian students.
  • 27.6 percent of AP test takers in the class of 2011 earned a qualifying score on a STEM exam.
  • 27 percent of 2011 test takers took an AP science exam and 26 percent took an AP math exam.

Statistics show that women dominate statistics

Women are beginning to shoot past men in one STEM field: mathematics and statistics! Dispelling the myths about women and math, we are finally seeing equality in one STEM field as posted by Meta S. Brown (really - a meta-analysis by Meta - how can you not love this) entitled The STEM Profession that Women Dominate.
According to her statistical analysis of statistical professions:
  • The number of women among mathematicians and statisticians equals the number of men. (The Population Reference Bureau, using data from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, reported on this in Mathematicians and Statisticians in the United States, 2007. In 2001, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that women statisticians outnumbered men, however I haven’t found more recent numbers at that level of detail.)
  • Almost half of degrees in math and statistics are earned by women. Women have earned more than 40% of math and statistics bachelor’s degrees throughout the past 4 decades. (The U.S. Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics reports this in their Digest of Education Statistics. Economist Mark Perry has posted a nice graph of this data)
  • Actuaries, the most heavily controlled and perhaps best compensated of the analytics professions, are 30% female. (Actuaries in the United States, 2007.)
  • More than one-third of the members of the American Statistical Association are women, and women are well-represented on the board, which includes two recent past presidents – both women. (I phoned the American Statistical Association and asked about women members. Statements about the board are based on board membership retrieved from the ASA website on April 4, 2012.)
  • Women statisticians are influential in many countries - 41 of the world’s 190 statistical offices are headed by women. (The World's Women 2010: Trends and Statistics, United Nations, p. 122)
Great to see such progress which will of course create even greater progress as there are many more role models for women.  If only we could get the university systems to recognize this since fewer than 20% of tenured math professors are women!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Let's Solve This: National Math and Science ExxonMobil Ads

During the Master's this weekend, ExxonMobil ran a series of great ads about the National Math and Science Initiative programs including one that shows our programs resulted in a 138% increase in students taking and passing AP.  Amazing results due to the APTIP and LTF programs in 6 states.

More to come but this one was the best! 

Come on people LET'S SOLVE THIS!!!

NMSI Works!

Nice blog post over at EdWeek by Jaclyn Zubrzycki - "Study: Paying Students for AP Scores Increases Educational Attainment".  Hate the title since that is not the prime focus of the National Math and Science Initiative. 

"Jackson set out to determine the APIP's impact on the college attendance, sophomore-year college persistence, college completion, labor market participation, and wage earnings of students who were in 10th grade between 1994 and 2007. He used the K-12 and college educational data available through the Texas Education Agency and Texas Higher Education Board to determine program participants' educational attainment, and unemployment insurance information to determine workplace participation and earnings.

He found that students enrolled in APIP took and passed more AP courses and enrolled in college, were more likely to persist in college, earn college credits, and earn bachelors degrees, and more likely to be employed and earning higher wages. For instance, before the program was adopted, approximately 22.9 percent of students took an AP course; 30.4 percent took such courses after the program was adopted. Each student also took more AP courses.
Some more findings from Jackson's report:
  • Among students likely to take AP courses, there was a 1.7-percentage point increase in graduating from college, a 2.7-percentage point increase in the likelihood of being employed in 2010, and a 5.7-percent increase in earnings conditional on employment.
  • The results also reveal sizable benefits for Hispanic students, who experience about a 2.5-percentage point increase in college degree attainment and an 11-percent increase in earnings.
  • The earnings increases for Hispanic and black students are large enough to reduce the black-white earnings gap by one third and to eliminate the Hispanic-white earnings gap entirely.
He also compared schools that paid $100 per exam to schools that paid more, and found that while both groups saw benefits, schools that paid between $101 and $500 per exam saw a bigger wage increase than schools that paid less."

BIG NOTE:  Laying the Foundation is the HUGE Pre-AP teacher training component of this program and the main reason that the pipeline fo students ready to take AP increased substantially during this time! 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Collaboration for Online Teacher PD

Back at VSS 2011, we held a dinner with Open High School of Utah (OHSU) to see if there were ways for Laying the Foundation's teacher training could be adapted for online teachers.  It was a great first meeting and today marks the next step - full collaboration on modifying our in class lessons for the virtual world. 

It is so great to see such amazing teachers working so hard for students. LTF has made such great strides in creating online PD for teachers through our blended learning model - and now we are going to modify existing lessons for the online classroom and create new ones.

Because the "Open" in OHSU is about creating open resources, these open lessons will be available to all teachers.