PRODUCTS, SERVICES & EVENTS

7/31/15

AASA Applauds Congressional Leaders for their Efforts toward ESEA Reauthorization

Alexandria, Va. – July 30, 2015 – Daniel A. Domenech, executive director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association, issued the following statement today commending U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander (D-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (R-Wash.), and U.S. Reps. John Kline (R-Minn.) and Bobby Scott (D-Va.) for their continued leadership and commitment to our nation’s schools and students as they meet today for the first time to begin the deliberate and critical discussions necessary to move the Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization one step closer to completion. AASA represents more than 13,000 school system leaders across the country and has listed ESEA reauthorization as a top legislative priority since the day the most recent iteration (No Child Left Behind) was passed into law.

“As the only national organization to have opposed NCLB from its onset, we are keenly aware and appreciative of this group’s concerted efforts for comprehensive reauthorization. This group of leaders is the one responsible for moving ESEA reauthorization to its furthest point in 15 years. They know, as well as anyone, the importance of balancing personal and party policy priorities with the needs and priorities of the broader group and that compromise is central to the ultimate goal of complete reauthorization.

“As a former superintendent having worked in schools under NCLB, and today, as the leader of the national organization representing our nation’s public school superintendents, the schools they lead and the students they serve, I am confident that our nation’s students will be in a better position under this legislative work product than their peers who went before them under NCLB. Schools open their doors to students regardless of the quality of federal policy and I am looking forward to an ESEA reauthorization that bolsters and strengthens educators’ unwavering commitment to teaching, learning and achievement.

“Earlier this month, AASA joined nine other national education organizations to urge Congress to work quickly to complete the ESEA conference process. As the letter states, there is still more work to be done. We strongly urge you to build on the momentum generated this month around ESEA reauthorization by proceeding to conference as soon as possible. Today’s meeting is a big step in the right direction. We at AASA stand ready to support this process.”

For specific questions about ESEA reauthorization, please contact Noelle Ellerson, AASA associate executive director, policy and advocacy, atnellerson@aasa.org.

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About AASA
AASA, The School Superintendents Association, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. AASA’s mission is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to the highest quality public education for all children. For more information, visit www.aasa.org.

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Wonder Workshop Streamlines Coding Instruction Through Touch App

News Image

While the economic demand for computer science skills continues to surge, introducing coding to the classroom can be an intimidating overture for teachers without a technical background. To ease this transition, Wonder Workshop, creators of smart robots that teach students the basics of coding, has developed a new version of the Blockly touch app in consultation with education experts.

Through drag-and-drop programming and diverse puzzles, the app’s new content brings coding to life during STEM instruction. Students use the app to program Dash & Dot robots to sense and react to the world around them. Blockly’s project-based puzzles are designed to engage students of all genders and backgrounds, with personalized tracks that consider students’ diverse interests. The app integrates with Wonder Workshop’s digital curriculum, which is aligned to Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards.

“Our goal is to alleviate the pressure and anxiety teachers often experience when it comes to coding instruction,” said Vikas Gupta, co-founder and CEO of Wonder Workshop. “Teachers don’t have to do it alone. Coupling Blockly with our vetted curriculum allows educators to address this 21st-century skill without needing to research unfamiliar concepts, develop lessons, assemble products and page through manuals.”

Blockly’s careful scaffolding of coding concepts ensures students in various grade levels remain engaged and in control. Younger students who are still learning to read can use the app’s visual interface to navigate challenges with introductory programming concepts, such as command sequences and algorithm design. In addition, the app helps older students visualize advanced concepts like variables and comparatives.

Blockly’s puzzles were carefully developed in collaboration with experienced computer science teachers to maximize ease of use and meaningful instruction. New lesson plans will be available for download regularly, ensuring fresh learning experiences for students.

About Dash & Dot
Dash & Dot are smart robots for curious minds! Targeted at teaching creative problem-solving and computational thinking, Dash & Dot help students learn fundamental cognitive processes relevant to all 21st-century skills that they’ll carry on throughout life.

Students can define how they want to play – whether solo, in pairs or in small groups. Dash & Dot are characters that ignite curiosity and confidence while providing fun and engaging ways of learning the essential skills of collaboration, communication and digital literacy. Teachers are using Dash & Dot to teach a variety of subjects, including math, science, social studies and English language arts.

Dash & Dot come with four free apps enabling students to explore a variety of learning experiences at different levels depending on their age and ability. Wonder Workshop accessories from Dash’s Xylophone to Building Brick Connectors (including LEGO™) bring endless creative possibilities, plus students can involve their existing resources around the classroom into the fun. The apps are compatible with more than 20 iOS and Android devices, including the iPad 3, iPad mini, iPad Air 1 & 2 and a variety of Nexus and Samsung Galaxy devices.

About Wonder Workshop
Wonder Workshop launched Dash & Dot in December 2014 and within its first month, delivered more than $3.5M in robots to 37 countries including the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, European countries, India, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong. Based in San Mateo, CA, Wonder Workshop was founded in 2012 by Vikas Gupta, Saurabh Gupta and Mikal Greaves, inventors, designers, programmers and parents with the mission to make coding a new creative tool that is accessible for children from age five and beyond. The company has currently raised $15.9 million in funding from Madrona Venture Group, CRV, WI Harper, Google Ventures, Bright Success Capital, Maven Ventures, Vikas Gupta, Reza Hussein and Jeff Schox. For more information, visit http://www.makewonder.com.

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7/30/15

Five Tips for Turning Students into Published Authors This School Year

Jane Ross, a digital literacy coach and Apple Distinguished Educator teaching in Jakarta, Indonesia, in collaboration with Book Creator, shares her top tips to help students author and publish ebooks in the new school year.

1. Allow students to create independently
Student learning is better when they take ownership of it. The iPad is an intuitive tool, and apps like Book Creator have a simple interface and blank canvas, so that even very young students can create independently.

2. Document authentic learning experiences
Once students are working independently, teachers need to keep the focus on learning. Focus on real-life learning experiences and find ways to get the students to document this – for example with instructional texts.

3. Collaborate beyond the classroom
Digital tools like Book Creator open up opportunities to educators and students to make connections with other classes, or even other schools to collaborate or share the work they want to publish. This in turn opens doors for authentic cultural exchanges that can often be difficult to capture in everyday classroom learning.

4. Use multimedia to add dimensions
With little coaching, students can give their books a professional look and feel by adding color, textures, fonts and multimedia. Start with a few simple images, such as photos or drawings, and then add arrows and labels. Have students record their voices in Book Creator to generate a sound bubble to place anywhere on the page.

5. Publish for a real audience
Book Creator allows to students to create ebooks and share it beyond the classroom. By using email, AirDrop, PDFs, YouTube, or the iBooks Store, students can present their work to a worldwide audience.

About Red Jumper:
Established in 2011 by Dan Amos, Red Jumper’s mission is to empower the next generation of content creators. In 2015, Book Creator was honored as a BETT Award winner for Best Educational App. By providing easy to use creation tools that demystify ePub creation, Book Creator seeks to open digital publishing to all. For more information visit www.bookcreator.com.

 

SOURCE Red Jumper

 

7/29/15

The Virtual High School Appoints Angela Castellucci As Marketing Manager 

 

Boston  — The Virtual High School (http://www.theVirtualHighSchool.org) today announced that Angela Castellucci has joined the organization as Marketing Manager.

 

“Angela brings a strong background in marketing, advertising and non-profits.  She is a tremendous asset to our organization and her expertise will be crucial as we continue to grow and build our brand,” said Carol Ribeiro, President & CEO of The Virtual High School (The VHS).

 

The VHS mission is to provide students with access to high-quality online and blended learning experiences, while supporting educators with the professional development and services needed to provide effective 21st century education for every student. The VHS partner schools have access to a wide range of core, elective, credit recovery and AP® courses that inspire, ignite, and deepen learning. For students, The VHS helps develop independent learning skills, explore college majors and careers, earn credit, and participate in global classrooms.

 

Castellucci joins The VHS from Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Boston where she served as Special Projects Manager in the Refugee and Immigration Services Program. Prior to that, Castellucci was an Account Executive at Hill Holiday where she oversaw the Corporate Social Responsibility local marketing campaign for the agency’s Bank of America client. A graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Castellucci is also a certified ESOL tutor at East Boston Neighborhood of Affordable Housing.

 

“The VHS has established itself as one of the leading online learning programs in the nation — it maintains an outstanding reputation; the company’s employees share a passion for education and are dedicated in supporting schools and educators in exceeding their learning initiatives. It’s what sets The VHS apart from other education companies. I’m thrilled to be a part of the team,” said Castellucci.

 

About The Virtual High School

 

The Virtual High School (VHS, Inc.) is an online learning pioneer. Since 1996, the nonprofit organization has set the standard for quality online education. The VHS provides courses taught in global online classrooms for secondary school students and online professional development for educators.  The organization also meets the unique educational needs of schools through custom course development, individualized course offerings, and support for blended learning initiatives. The VHS design and delivery standards are the model used by the National Education Association in their recommended standards for online learning.  The organization has won numerous awards, including the Stockholm Challenge Award for Global Excellence in Information Technology and is a three-time winner of the United States Distance Learning Association’s (USDLA) award for Excellence in Programming and Excellence in Best Practices. For more information, visit www.TheVirtualHighSchool.org or call (978) 897-1900.

 

 

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Odysseyware Unveils Redesigned Course Customization Builder

Educators have access to unparalleled course customization tools and enhanced search features

 

(CHANDLER, Ariz.) July 28, 2015 –Odysseyware, a leading provider of online curriculum for digital learners, is pleased to announce new tools and features to its custom course builder as well as enhanced search functionality to its 21st century platform.

 

Providing educators with the flexibility to customize courses and truly personalize the experience for each student drives the creation of all courses offered by Odysseyware. To further provide it’s school and district partners, Odysseyware has unveiled its improved and redesigned custom course builder allowing educators to quickly identify and organize the building blocks of a course to further personalize the learning experience for each student. Additionally, educators are able to search curriculum by topic and standard to facilitate even more customization.

 

Teachers can choose to author unique content, customize a previously created course, or customize a standard course, the new tools give educators the ability to rearrange, add and delete content including assignments.

 

“We strive to provide educators the tools they need to create an extremely flexible student experience, and giving the ability to quickly customize and personalize learning for each students individual needs will help educators and students long-term.  Additional functionality in our custom course builder and search features make that even easier for our users,” said Odysseyware President Beth TeGrotenhuis “Feedback from our school and district partners has been overwhelmingly positive. “

 

A highly optimized keyword search engine with a filter feature has been added so teachers are able to easily find content including units or assignments. They are able to explore, search, and save content found during the search and track the search path. Odysseyware has created four different searches engines based on curriculum, custom courses or assignments already created, topic or by state standards. Standards vary from state to state and with a custom search teachers will be able to save time and effort in looking for content aligning with the common core. The goal is for teachers to save time on building lessons and to give students a richer learning experience.

 

For more information, visit http://odysseyware.com.

 

About Odysseyware

Headquartered in Chandler, Arizona, Odysseyware is an innovative, multimedia-enriched online curriculum. Completely web-based, Odysseyware provides 21st century educational solutions by offering the core subjects of history and geography, math, language arts, and science along with enriching electives, CTE, placement testing, diagnostics and professional development. This curriculum is sold directly through regional education specialists. To learn more, visit http://odysseyware.com/ or call 877-795-8904.

7/27/15

Project Connect Takes Action to Support

Future-Ready K-12 Libraries, Librarians

Thought leaders mobilize to devise job descriptions, roles, evaluation rubrics

 

MCHENRY, Ill., July 23, 2015Project Connect has announced new initiatives designed to support the cause of future-ready libraries and librarians, all with the ultimate goal of enhancing student learning in a dynamic digital world. The organization’s Library Leadership Committee held its first round of think-tank sessions at the ISTE ’15 Conference in Philadelphia, where the team developed plans to advocate for school library programs through the promotion of innovative and progressive models in use around the country.

Chief among the committee’s responsibilities will be devising a “Toolkit for Transformation” to include a framework for districts to consider as they rewrite job descriptions, roles, and evaluation rubrics for the school librarian. In short, a set of agreed-upon standards that all school libraries and librarians should be working toward. Further, the Committee plans to share success stories that highlight school librarians (and their programs) who are leading, teaching and supporting 21st-century learning initiatives. Additionally, the Committee will help develop a clearer understanding of the role and significance of today’s “new-age librarian.” To further the goal of creating “future-ready” librarians, the Committee also is exploring the idea of partnering with universities to create micro-credentials around the areas of focus.

Project Connect, sponsored by Follett, is a national initiative to advocate for school libraries and connect powerful school library programs to the needs of successful 21st-century learning. Team members comprise industry thought leaders from the preK-12, professional association, and higher education space, all dedicated to illustrating how librarians can be a solution to the many challenges of a digital transformation.

The Library Leadership Committee is comprised of:

  • Jennifer Boudrye (director of library programs, DC Public Schools, Washington D.C.)
  • Carolyn Foote (district librarian and high school librarian, Westlake High School, Eanes Independent School District, Austin, Texas
  • Mark Ray (chief digital officer,Vancouver Public Schools, Vancouver, Wash.)
  • Mary Reiman (director of library media services, Lincoln Public Schools, Lincoln, Neb.)
  • Scott Smith (chief technology officer, Mooresville Graded School District, Mooresville N.C.)

“The education landscape is changing rapidly, and libraries play a key role in the shift so many schools are making,” Foote said. “With their information literacy skills and curriculum connections, tech-savvy librarians are uniquely qualified to collaborate with teachers and administrators to lead schools forward. Follett’s partnership will be a significant contribution to support future-ready libraries for our students.”

Project Connect’s Library Leadership Committee will next gather as part of a focus group in Seattle at the SLJ Leadership Summit in September. Follett’s Board Chairman Todd Litzsinger created Project Connect in 2013 and says the Library Leadership Committee symbolizes what Project Connect initially sought to accomplish.

“Project Connect was created to help drive shared knowledge among key leaders as it pertains to the instructional changeover occurring throughout the country,” he said. “Focusing on the importance libraries are playing as one of the key cogs in helping drive innovative instruction showcases the human capital and the important technology tools that are keys to the future in educational resourcing within a district.”

To learn more about Project Connect, visit www2.follettlearning.com/projectconnect.

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About Follett’s PreK-12 Business| follettlearning.com
Follett is the largest provider of educational materials and technology solutions to PreK-12 libraries, classrooms, learning centers and school districts in the United States, and a major supplier to educational institutions worldwide. Follett distributes books, reference materials, digital resources, ebooks and audiovisual materials, as well as pre-owned textbooks. Follett also is one of the leading providers of integrated educational technology for the management of physical and digital assets, the tracking, storing and analyzing of academic data, and digital learning environment tools for the classroom focusing on student achievement.

About Follett Corporation| follett.com

Since 1873, Follett has served as the trusted partner in education for students and educators at all levels of learning. Today Follett delivers physical and digital learning materials, retail services, school content and management systems to more than 70,000 early childhood, primary and secondary schools, and on more than 1,000 college campuses. Headquartered in River Grove, Illinois, Follett is a $2.7 billion privately held company.

 

7/24/15

7/23/15

ASCD Report Examines Connection between Poverty and Education

Alexandria, VA (7/23/2015)―ASCD, a global community dedicated to excellence in learning, teaching, and leading, has released a new report on poverty and education. The report summarizes the issues, discussions, and findings from the association’s spring 2015 Whole Child Symposium, which took place in May at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. The panelists, representing various roles across education, discussed the link between poverty and education, how poverty affects schools and classrooms, and the actions educators, policymakers, and community members can take to ensure positive outcomes for our nation’s children.

“If we do not address poverty as it relates to each child’s ability to learn, we will surely bear the grave consequences of not dealing with it,” said Sean Slade, moderator of the Whole Child Symposium and ASCD director of outreach. “This report highlights key points we must carefully consider and candidly discuss, so we can create an education system where each child has equal worth and potential.”

The event focused on two defining moments: the recent A New Majority Research Bulletin from the Southern Education Foundation—which highlights the fact that more than half of public school students now come from low-income households—and the passing of 51 years since President Lyndon B. Johnson launched the War on Poverty. With these two moments as the backdrop, the panel discussions focused both on systems change as well as actions that can take place across the school and in the classroom. The report’s highlighted findings include the following:

  • Inequitable Funding Mechanisms―The majority of public school systems in the United States receive a proportion of their funding from local property taxes; students’ ability to receive high-quality educations is often predetermined by their zip codes.
  • Inflexible Funding Formulas―Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which provides federal funding to help local school districts meet the needs of disadvantaged students, was designed to alleviate many of the educational concerns associated with low income in our nation’s schools. However, for many educators, it has become an underresourced and inflexible system that inadvertently perpetuates the issues.
  • The Power of Relationships―Providing all students, in particular those from low-income households, with a nurturing and supportive classroom environment is an essential part of ensuring their success. It requires minimal financial investment and pays huge dividends.
  • The Importance of Cultural Competency―Referring to poverty as a culture implies that it is a part of the students rather than just the reality of their current circumstances. Such a mindset runs counter to the premise that education is the best antidote to poverty. Panelist Kathleen Budge explained that kids living in poverty are not of poverty, saying “Although that seems like… maybe splitting hairs, being in something is different than being of it.  And there’s such a bigger, I think a more … hopeful message that’s very real when we think about separating kids’ growing identities (from) their living conditions.”

Steve Suitts, panelist and author of A New Majority Research Bulletin, summarized the situation: “We’ve reached the juncture in our public schools where the education of low-income students is not simply a matter of equity and fairness. It’s a matter of our national future, because when one group becomes the majority of our students, they define what that future is going to be in education more than any other group.” To learn more about this critical issue, read the full report here.

To view video archives of the event, read about the panelists, and learn more about ASCD’s spring 2015 Whole Child Symposium, visitwww.ascd.org/wcsymposium. For more information on ASCD’s Whole Child approach to education and its mission to promote the overall, long-term development of children, visit www.ascd.org/wholechild.

 

 

ASCD is a global community dedicated to excellence in learning, teaching, and leading. Comprising 125,000 members—superintendents, principals, teachers, and advocates from more than 138 countries—the ASCD community also includes 56 affiliate organizations. ASCD’s innovative solutions promote the success of each child. To learn more about how ASCD supports educators as they learn, teach, and lead, visit www.ascd.org.

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Texas Districts Enlist Skyward to Address Data Integration Needs

7/22/15

CEV Multimedia Adds Texas-Specific Career Exploration Curriculum

Designed to address the state’s new high school graduation requirements, iCEV online video playlists unite counselors, teachers and parents in helping students select and complete endorsement areas

With Texas high school graduation requirements changing under Texas House Bill 5 (HB 5), the state’s school counselors, principals and teachers are searching for effective ways to guide students and parents through the new process. CEV Multimedia, a leading producer of Career and Technical Education (CTE) curriculum resources, today released state-specific Career Exploration curriculum through iCEV to help.

Incoming high school freshmen are now required to choose one of five specialized endorsement areas: science, technology, engineering and math (STEM); business and industry; public services; arts and humanities; or multidisciplinary. As part of Texas House Bill 18 (HB 18), schools are responsible for helping students and parents understand the endorsement areas.

“This legislation provides the framework for ensuring Texas students and their families make deliberate, informed decisions that put them on a path to college and career readiness,” said Texas State Senator Charles Perry. “By creating and delivering timely Career Exploration technology curriculum, in a multi-media format, the successful implementation of HB 18 by educators, parents and students will become a reality ”

Whether schools have a dedicated career exploration course or will utilize core classes, school assemblies or individual study to educate students on the endorsement areas, iCEV now contains video playlists to match. Upon logging-in to the online platform, teachers, counselors or administrators can implement one or more of these playlists:

  •     Introduction Playlist for HB and Endorsements
  •     Detailed Playlist for Each Endorsement
  •     Complete Courses

“School counselors, in particular, are facing a pretty daunting challenge of helping each individual student understand and select an area of study,” said Dusty Moore, president of iCEV. “These new resources are built to ensure everyone involved in a student’s selection of an endorsement area has a complete understanding of the new process. We want to remove any ambiguity and make the lives of school leaders easier.”

Because the materials are available online, students can access the curriculum from home and engage parents or guardians in discussing their endorsement choice. In addition, virtual job descriptions tied to each lesson allow students to hear first-hand about careers choices within each endorsement area. Online testing and grading, plus interactive activities, enable teachers, counselors and administrators to assess students’ knowledge regarding HB 5 and endorsements. School leaders can also produce printouts, which help students plan coursework and achieve endorsements.

For more information about how iCEV addresses the new requirements in Texas, visithttp://www.icevonline.com/landing-pages/hb5a/.

About CEV Multimedia
With 30 years of experience, CEV specializes in providing quality Career & Technical Education (CTE) curriculum and education resources for several major subject areas: Agricultural Science and Technology, Family & Consumer Sciences, Business Education, Marketing Education, Trade and Industrial Education and Career Exploration. CEV received the U.S Chamber of Commerce’s Blue Ribbon Small Business Award in 2012 and has been honored numerous times for its excellence in content creation and exemplary business practices. In 2012, CEV introduced iCEV, an online platform revolutionizing the way CEV produces and delivers educational content. iCEV is the most comprehensive online resource for CTE educators and students. With iCEV’s learning-on-demand capabilities, video clips stream instantly to any device with Internet capabilities. Through iCEV, students can earn industry-backed certifications across multiple areas of CTE that prepare them for college and beyond. For more information, visit http://www.icevonline.com.

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Vibeffect Index Reveals 1:5 Students are High Thrivers in U.S. Colleges

College Optimizer Index measures thriving across academic, social and individual dimensions.

vibeffect, a family-centered college-decision framework that helps students identify campuses where they’re most likely to thrive, today announced the inaugural results of its College Optimizer Index(COI), an indicator designed to measure consumer confidence across the nation’s 4-year colleges. The COI defines thriving as “When a student experiences the maximum benefits from a specific college ecosystem, and demonstrates this by heightened academic and social integration, and a deeper sense of happiness.”

Data from the COI offers an unprecedented opportunity for the consumer to consider the qualitative aspects of more than 100 features found in colleges across the U.S. While most college research focuses on quantitative aspects of the college experience, industry thought leaders are increasingly searching for qualitative data that provides insight into the quality of the education received, as well as student outcomes.

In the COI, the qualitative aspects of specific college and university ecosystems are taken into consideration for the first time in order to help students identify where they’re most likely to thrive.

“When it comes to investing in college, most students focus on admissions and whether or not they’ll be accepted,” said Elena M. Cox, CEO of vibeffect. “We challenge young people to put equal or more emphasis on understanding where they will grow, thrive, and complete their degree. We created the Index as a benchmark of student thriving that would give us the objective information needed to guide families towards a more thoughtful college decision.”

Based on the data collected in 2015, the results show that a majority of students are thriving within their respective college environments, but there is room for improvement. While most are thriving medium-high (36 percent), there are just as many low-thrivers as there are high-thrivers (19 percent). Results also show that there are fewer differences in a student’s likelihood to thrive when considering demographic and socio-economic factors. For example:

  • Men and women are high-thrivers at nearly equivalent rates (two out of ten).
  • Low-income students are equally likely to be in high-thriving and low-thriving categories.
  • Low-income, first-generation and community college transfer students are more likely than the general population to be high thrivers.
  • Socioeconomic differences between students does not negatively impact the probability of a low-income student thriving in college.
  • One-quarter (25 percent) of students from families earning $150,000 or more are high-thrivers.

Data collected is a result of the 2014 and 2015 Survey of College Students and Recent Graduates conducted by vibeffect and managed by Greenwald & Associates. Respondents were given a survey about their college experience satisfaction, college attributes, student types, learning resources, course of study and more. In total, 3,600 households were interviewed representing nearly 1,000 four-year colleges and universities.

To view the results and an infographic summarizing some key findings of the College Optimizer Index, visithttps://thevibeffect.com/index-2015. To learn more about vibeffect, visit http://www.thevibeffect.com.

About vibeffect
vibeffect is a college-decision framework that uses predictive analytics to deliver unbiased, data-driven results that help families make confident investments in higher education. The system’s purpose is to ensure families base their college decision on their child’s strengths and the best college eco-system for their academic, social and individual thriving. For more information, visit http://www.thevibeffect.com.

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National Student Clearinghouse’s StudentTracker for High Schools
Earns iKeepSafe FERPA Badge

Educational reporting leader first to receive badge for student data privacy

Herndon, Virginia, July 22, 2015 —  ikeepsafe.org, a leading digital safety and privacy nonprofit, announced today that it has awarded its first privacy protection badge to StudentTracker for High Schools from the National Student Clearinghouse, the largest provider of electronic student record exchanges in the U.S. Its selection as the first recipient of the new badge reflects the ongoing efforts of the Clearinghouse, which performs more than one billion secure electronic student data transactions each year, to protect student data privacy.

A nonprofit organization founded by the higher education community in 1993, the Clearinghouse provides educational reporting, verification, and research services to more than 3,600 colleges and universities and more than 9,000 high schools. Its services are also used by school districts and state education offices nationwide.

Earlier this year, iKeepSafe launched the first independent assessment program for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to help educators and parents identify edtech services and tools that protect student data privacy.

“The National Student Clearinghouse is as committed to K12 learners as we are to those pursuing postsecondary education, and that also means we’re committed to protecting their data and educational records,” said Ricardo Torres, President and CEO of the Clearinghouse. “So many aspects of education are moving into the digital realm, and we’re focused on providing students with the privacy and protection they deserve in a rapidly changing digital environment.”

The Clearinghouse became the first organization to receive the iKeepSafe FERPA badge by completing a rigorous assessment of its StudentTracker for High Schools product, privacy policy and practices. “As the first company to earn the iKeepSafe FERPA badge, the National Student Clearinghouse has demonstrated its dedication to K12 students and their families, and to the privacy and security of their data,” said iKeepSafe CEO Marsali Hancock.

Products participating in the iKeepSafe FERPA assessment must undergo annual re-evaluation to continue displaying the iKeepSafe FERPA badge. For the evaluation, an independent privacy expert reviewed the StudentTracker for High Schools product, its privacy policy and practices, as well as its data security practices.
About iKeepSafe

iKeepSafe (the Internet Keep Safe Coalition) was established in 2005 by former Utah First Lady Jacalyn Leavitt as a nonprofit international alliance of educators, advocates, policymakers and experts in public health, technology and law. iKeepSafe creates positive resources to help families, educators and policymakers prepare kids and teens to use the Internet and technology in safe, smart and healthy ways. iKeepSafe’s work fostering online safety, security and privacy is crucial for building parent and educator confidence in technology, so that all children and youth can access the benefits of digital innovation. For more information, visit www.ikeepsafe.org.

 

About the National Student Clearinghouse®

The National Student Clearinghouse (a nonprofit formed in 1993) is the trusted source for and leading provider of higher education verifications and electronic education record exchanges, handling more than 700 million verification requests and over 250 million education record exchanges annually. The Clearinghouse serves as a single point of contact for the collection and timely exchange of accurate and comprehensive enrollment, degree, and certificate records on behalf of its more than 3,600 participating higher education institutions, which represent 98 percent of all students in public and private U.S. institutions. The Clearinghouse also provides thousands of high schools and districts with continuing collegiate enrollment, progression, and completion statistics on their alumni.

Through its verification, electronic exchange, and reporting services, the Clearinghouse saves the education community cumulatively over $750 million dollars annually. Most Clearinghouse services are provided to colleges and universities at little or no charge, including enhanced transcript and research services, enabling institutions to redistribute limited staff and budget resources to more important student service efforts. Clearinghouse services are designed to facilitate an institution’s compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, The Higher Education Act, and other applicable laws.

In addition, the Clearinghouse provides accurate, timely enrollment and degree verifications to student loan providers, employers, student credit issuers, the U.S. Department of Education, and others who access its registry nearly three-quarters of a billion times annually. For more information, visitwww.studentclearinghouse.org.

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For Immediate Release July 22, 2015

Catapult Learning and SESI Merger 
Catapult Learning and Specialized Education Services, Inc., Announce Merger Creating the Nation’s Largest Provider of Contracted Instructional Services.

CL_New-Logo-Stacked_Color-300x90Camden, New Jersey – Catapult Learning, a leading technology-enabled K–12 services provider, and Specialized Education Services, Inc. (SESI), a premier provider of alternative and special education services, today announced a definitive agreement to merge, resulting in the creation of the unsurpassed industry leader of contracted instructional services in the U.S.

The new organization, to be officially known as Catapult Learning, Inc., is uniquely positioned to deliver an unprecedented portfolio of proven effective programs and services all under one umbrella and all targeted to improve academic achievement and performance. The merger of the two educational services providers also reflects a growing trend for school districts to outsource instructional services for struggling students and those students with special needs.

“This is what districts are telling us they want—services that complement their programs and can support any low-performing student, regardless of learning barrier. With Catapult Learning and SESI working as one, we can make sure districts across the country have access to just that,” said Stuart Udell, CEO, Catapult Learning.

Combined, the merged company has 5,500 employees, including teachers, counselors, and support service professionals, operates 80 schools, and serves over 300,000 students nationwide.

Founded in 1976, Catapult Learning is a full-service instructional provider of proven intervention, professional development, assessment, and dropout prevention and recovery programs, with a special focus on struggling and at-risk students. Catapult Learning’s school and district partners consistently report significant student gains, with annual pre- to post-intervention standardized test scores rising an average of 12 normal-curve equivalent (NCE) points in math and 11 in reading over the past eight academic years. Additionally, over 95% of Catapult Learning partners renew their contracts, and the average tenure of partnership is 17 years.

For 30 years, SESI—headquartered in Yardley, PA—has been expertly and holistically meeting the academic, behavioral, and emotional needs of K–12+ students facing intensive learning, language, and social challenges. Implementing a signature education model that incorporates supportive therapies and life skills training, SESI emphasizes guiding students to success in and out of the classroom and optimally preparing them for next steps. SESI has an impressive graduation rate of 79%–98% for special education students (across all SESI schools) and a partner retention rate of more than 90%.

“The ability to broaden our array of services with a company that shares our vision and values with the highest integrity is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Our united organization brings an impressive national track record of helping students and districts achieve the best outcomes,” said Michael Kaufman, Ph.D., President and CEO, SESI.

JMI Equity, The Carlyle Group, and Chicago Growth Partners remain as equity sponsors of the combined organization. They are joined by new investment from Juggernaut Capital.

Signal Hill served as an advisor to Catapult Learning on this transaction. BMO Capital Markets advised SESI on the transaction.


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