By Elizabeth Ferruelo
Fixing the education system has long been a national priority — and a national struggle. The U.S. lags behind other developed countries in math and science, and student performance is uneven across states. But the convergence of two new trends is creating reason for cautious optimism.
The Common Core standards, called by the New York Times “the most significant change to American public education in a generation,” have created uniform curricular objectives, which seek to smooth out the unevenness in education. Second, technology — cheaper hardware and digital tools such as Khan Academy or MOOCs — has opened access to information, professors and resources in ways unimaginable a decade earlier.
While this technology was disrupting most industries, a fragmented market and paper textbooks delayed the entry of new companies, products and ideas into education. But a more fertile market created by the Common Core and digitalization, and futile attempts to convince a publisher to build the curriculum program she needed, prompted teacher-turned-social entrepreneur Eileen Murphy to launch thinkCERCA.
Experience teaching English in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and working in curriculum design in a central office meant Murphy knew not only what teachers needed, but she could see the larger, more troubling picture. Centralized data revealed student performance decreasing in many cases, pointing to a failure in individualized teaching. At a micro level, she visited 20 blended schools—those integrating online learning in the classroom — and noticed dramatic shortcomings. “The gaping hole was in literacy. We also saw that digital use was isolated – it was not collaborative and there was no teacher involvement.”Click to continue reading »