The 10 Million Toddlers program
The 10 million Toddlers program represents an educational innovation to develop resources for parents of children ages 1 – 5 or the conventional pre-Kindergarten (pre-K) ages. A plethora of research exists that identifies pre-K as an essential period in the educational development of all children. A few programs do exist, including the Federal Program Head Start or variations of Pre-School systems (e.g., Montessori), but these programs are self-contained environments with limited roles for parents. The 10 million Toddlers program is designed to provide support mechanisms and instructional programs to aid parents in the educational development of their children.
The 10 million Toddlers program includes two elements:
- (1) a series of informational and support documents for parents on child development, including normal progression and interventions for cognitive, kinesthetic, psychosocial, health, nutrition and language developmental stages.
- (2) educational diagnostics and instructional programs to provide a mechanism for parents to support the academic development and preparation of their children in advance of more traditional educational programs.
The goal of this element is to facilitate the involvement of parents in all facets of a child’s academic development while concurrently assisting them in identifying the best strategies, programs, and even games or toys, to utilize in promoting the academic development of their child. The focus of 10 million Toddlers program is to provide a parent-centric application that provides these tools in a forum that transcends current practices and opens an educational resource to all parents regardless of socioeconomic status, geographical location, or financial resources.
The 10 million Toddlers program will be integrated into the PLA as a feature for parents with pre-K aged children. Initially, a series of diagnostics inventories will be provided, with concise methods for their use, to assist parents in determining the educational abilities of their child. A parent will then input this information into a “parent portal” as part of the 10 million Toddlers program. A series of diagnostics will be completed and individualized reports developed, which will suggest instructional and social skills to employ in assisting their child’s development. Additionally, a series of reports, studies, and adaptations (i.e., laymen overviews on these reports and studies and how to utilize the results with your child) will be provided by leading researchers and professors on early child development. Finally, as the 10 million Toddlers program evolves, research professors will be monitoring and studying the progress of children and the effectiveness of the diagnostics, educational and social programs employed and the effect on improving the educational outcomes of children participating in the program.
NORMES Testing Portal
The NORMES Testing Portal provides an efficient and academically sound approach for assessing student achievement through the use of formative and interim assessments. The process is automated with innovative reporting that provides essential diagnostic information on process errors. This methodology represents an innovation in education for all Pre-K-12 students, and will dramatically change the outcomes associated with mathematics achievement.
• Identification of curriculum trees
• Automated generation of test questions
• Development of a scoring matrix
• Reports for educators that provide formative and summative information
• Extension to Formative Maps
The NORMES Testing Portal can be used effectively to assess on-going student progress in mathematics. It obviates the need to rely on other more costly assessment systems to evaluate mathematics achievement. The Portal connects students to teachers to parents and provides diagnostic information at each level to improve student performance. Practice questions can also be generated along with modeled problems to help students arrive at the correct answer. It currently has been developed for Algebra, but the goal is to grow the portal to include mathematics from identifying numbers through calculus. The system would then represent a comprehensive testing system that could provide necessary mathematics instruction, support, and assessments across a child’s education. The NORMES Testing Portal can serve as one model/system for not only math but also as a template for advances in the measurement of pedagogy. Once NORMES has completed the “math system process template” the University Arkansas would have the critical mass necessary to make a complete educational offering.
NORMES is investigating how to map curriculum from various states and educational institutions to basic knowledge units in Algebra. Although the emphasis is on students learning the basic knowledge units or Student Learning Expectations (SLE), this mapping methodology will help students and educators monitor and adjust instructional strategies to support instruction and learning. What is essential about this concept is the ability to extend and integrate this approach to the National Core Curriculum being adopted throughout the U.S. educational systems. Effectively, math content from the first stages of introducing numbers through advanced elements of calculus have remained unchanged for centuries. However, the ability to link state or national educational goals and objectives with the specific content in the DAWN Exchange will increase the viability and success of the system. The basis for sharing our research with Arkansas and the National Common Core models is to demonstrate we are actively working on methodologies that allow us to complete this process for any educational system (i.e., school, district, state or nation).
Expert Panel and the Skype Model
NORMES is developing a communication model through the use of Skype for classrooms and individual students to talk to experts in a particular field. The experts can be students or mentors who have the knowledge or experience which a student seeks. This model can be used as a tool to enhance career, job search, research, educational planning and instruction. This model is being developed as part of a research study to encourage, identify and support students with STEM interests.
The above model can be extended to the DAWN program with more advanced features. Skype was used in the above model only to demonstrate the usefulness of the model. Alternate technologies or software can also be used.
Cognitive Psychology, Learning and Motivation
NORMES and the University of Arkansas are conducting research to identify approaches in teaching that enhance student understanding of a concept or topic. Learning and motivation are often studied within the context of the traditional classroom. The strength of NORMES and the U of A faculty are the educational psychology professors who study cognition and how people learn. These faculty members are working to more fully understand how to improve learning outside the classroom and to identify approaches for the unique abilities and performance levels of individual students.
It is imperative to study and improve on the curriculum, learning-cognition, and analytics of how best to improve and continue to develop new and innovative global educational programs. The seminal research; studies on the effectiveness of the analytics, autism programs, learning/cognition, and overall impact of the global educational programs will be initially conducted by NORMES faculty. Further, the partnership between DAWN and The U of A is facilitating:
• Collaboration of Educators, Researchers and other entities from across the globe for the purpose of expanding international perspectives on education psychometrics, statistics and research.
• Partnerships with leading educational institutions from around the world who are themselves interested in advancing pedagogy, intercultural competence and the human condition.
• The advent of Research Grants, scholarships and DAWN Learning/Development Labs for the U of A with proceeds emanating from revenues generated from the commercial application of the joint DAWN/U of A developments.
Autism Spectrum Disorder and Special Needs Students
In addition to traditional educational programs NORMES is conducting research on individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) who represent an emerging population rapidly approaching adulthood. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2010), one in 88 children has ASD. Although the substantial surge in autism prevalence could be due to better detection, a true increase in risk has not been ruled out (CDC). In 2009 the CDC stated that the alarming rise in prevalence of ASD constituted a real health concern.
The importance of individuals on the autism spectrum achieving academic success and leading self-determined lives is apparent. According to the 2012 Community Report from the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, which was based on 2008 data, the majority (62%) of individuals with ASD had normal cognitive ability. However, the defining deficits in the domains of communication, social skills, and restricted behaviors present specific challenges to adolescents and young adults as they make the leap from childhood to the adult world. Despite the availability of an expanding body of literature on the characteristics and outcomes of adolescents and adults with ASD, understanding how to facilitate better transition outcomes for this population is still limited. It is critical that researchers identify specific individual academic strengths and mechanisms to increase motivation of students on the autism spectrum so they will be able to meet their full potential as they assume adult roles. Autism spectrum disorder and other disabilities that impact student ability to learn presents another application of where the DAWN Exchange can be innovative in the approach to transcending traditional educational paradigms.