Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and education reform

Great schools matter for kids. I believe they are the most powerful force we have for reducing economic and social inequality in the United States over the long run. But it’s a mistake to work on “fixing” schools while ignoring the conditions and beliefs that make it possible for chronically underperforming schools to persist in the first place. Or the crushing realities they perpetuate in communities across the country.

Our work to improve schools will be stronger if we acknowledge and speak up about the interdependencies with other issues that affect young people and their communities. Earlier this fall, a couple of weeks after unarmed teenager Michael Brown was shot dead in Ferguson, our team at NewSchools used a standing all-staff meeting to talk in small groups about what had happened. Our team is not as diverse as it should be, or will be, but we tried to bring our differences to bear as we struggled to make sense of the story coming out of Ferguson. For some of us it was tough to find the right words. We tried in good faith to connect it to the work we do to support entrepreneurs working to improve schools.

I was struck again that day by something I’ve known intellectually for a long time. But it’s still emotionally jarring every time I hear Black friends and colleagues talk about it. I never worry about whether the teenagers in my family or their White friends are at risk of physical harm if they have an encounter with a police officer. Never. When I write my essay on a similar topic, I always talk about this example to support my arguments.

On the contrary, my sisters and I still laugh warmly about the fact that when we were teenagers, our late grandma told us we each had one “get out of jail free” call if we ever ended up in the Galveston County jail. We could call her, she’d come get us, she wouldn’t tell our momma. If we were arrested a second time, she’d come get us, but she’d have to tell momma. It was a joke. A funny way of saying you crazy girls might end up in a jam running around the county with your friends, but you’ll be fine, it’s not the end of the world.

But I’m shaken every time I hear Black moms and dads share what they say to their sons, nephews, and grandsons in an effort to lower the risk that an encounter with a cop might go badly. It’s a persistent nagging fear for them, and it’s not abstract. It’s backed up by specific instances involving their brothers, fathers, uncles, and themselves. It reminds me every time of the great chasm between our experiences. In my family, the topic is a fond memory. In theirs, it’s an ever present evidence-based concern.

I don’t think cops are dangerous. I think they are public servants who put their lives on the line to protect their communities. Like any profession, sure there are some bad ones, but I bet it’s a small fraction. This belief is reinforced by every interaction I’ve ever had with law enforcement. But I acknowledge my experience isn’t the only reality. And I know as human beings, we all have implicit biases that affect our interactions with each other in ways that can sometimes lead to tragic consequences.

We can’t pretend these realities aren’t at play as we grapple with situations like the shootings of Michael Brown and Tamir Rice and the protests that followed. Or when we talk about how to “engage the community” in the work of improving schools. Or the growing conversation about aggressive school discipline policies and practices. In some instances these might be contributing to short run improvements in academic data, but might also be reinforcing implicit biases and stereotypes, shaping young people’s views of themselves, and perpetuating community mistrust of leaders and institutions.

We have to confront these issues with a courage mixed with compassion for kids and each other. We have to broaden our discourse about education reform to include factors that have made it possible for Black and Latino young people to be systemically failed not only by their schools but by other institutions and systems, and the devastating effects this has on them, their families and their neighborhoods.

Shared attributes of schools implementing personalized learning

Schools all over the country are redesigning their instructional models to provide personalized learning for students. The term personalized learning is used in different ways, often interchangeably with blended or competency-based learning. Susan Patrick and colleagues at iNACOL released Mean What You Say in October, which reviews how these terms are used and proposes a way to integrate them. The paper provides a good overview of the terms and some of the overlap between them.

In our work at the Gates Foundation, we sort out the terms this way for now:

  • Personalized learning — students’ learning experiences are tailored to their individual needs, skill levels, and interests. Students engage in a variety of instructional approaches and are able move at a pace that works best for them. The learning experience is also designed to help students build deep connections with their teachers and other students. For us, this is the big idea that has the potential to drive breakthrough results for students.
  • Blended instruction — personalizing the learning experiences of every student is a difficult task, and no one knows better than teachers how hard it can be. Blended instruction incorporates or “blends” the best of what teachers do with the support of instructional technologies that help strengthen the time teachers spend with their students. Not all blended instruction is personalized — some schools layer technology onto their one-size-fits-most instructional models. But when educators commit to personalized learning, it’s incredibly difficult to achieve it for large groups of students without blended instruction.
  • Competency-based progressions — these are a key feature of school models that make learning paths visible to students and allow them to go at a pace that works best for them, moving on when they can demonstrate they’ve learned a concept or acquired a skill. Some schools have been using competency-based progressions for years, but the growing focus on personalized learning has exposed the idea to a wider audience.

We support many new and redesigned district and charter schools built around personalized learning. Over the next couple of years they will produce meaningful evidence of whether they can consistently accelerate learning for students, including those who have struggled in the past. To complement a multi-year quantitative evaluation run by RAND, we are working with a number of partners to produce more qualitative, descriptive data about what these schools are up to.

One effort underway with a number of educators and thought partners is identifying some attributes shared by personalized learning (PL) schools. It’s still very much a work in progress and will serve as a complement to the helpful blended learning taxonomy developed by the Christensen Institute. By making sense of what the pioneers in the PL school space are doing, we hope to make it easier for the next wave of school design teams to get started. Here are the four shared attributes we’re seeing so far, with brief descriptions:

Learner profiles — Each student has a profile that reflects his or her individual skills, gaps, strengths, weaknesses, interests, aspirations and goals. Profiles are refreshed frequently to provide an up to date picture, and are accessible to students, teachers and parents.

Personal learning paths — Each student follows a path through content and skill progressions, in ways that work best for him or her, through a variety of learning experiences. Students have the tools and support they need to develop ownership of their paths. And while the paths vary by learner, the destination is the same — clear, high standards of academic performance and the cognitive and non-cognitive skills students need for success.

Individual demonstration of mastery — Students move along their learning paths as they demonstrate mastery of content, concepts and skills. They receive constant feedback about how they are doing and can engage in assessments and performance tasks when they feel ready.

Flexible learning environments — Time, space, roles, and instructional methods flex with the needs of students and teachers rather than being fixed variables.

Figuring out whether these attributes are present in a PL school isn’t a yes or no proposition. From school to school, some of the attributes are more fully developed, while others are more nascent. To help reflect what the attributes look like in practice, each will include a number of “how” components, which are still very much under construction. The attributes will continue to evolve over the next few months as educators discuss and debate them, and the “hows” will get firmed up and widely shared and shaped.

Please feel free to share any feedback  you might have about the attributes at this early stage.

#EISummit Closing Keynote a Step in the Wrong Direction

Started a few years ago, the ASU/GSV Education Innovation Summit is primarily an industry conference for entrepreneurs and investors in the global education market, from early childhood through corporate training and informal adult learning. Companies are there to pitch, and investors are looking for deal flow. But over the last couple of years the organizers have tried to include content that highlights important issues in US  K-12 and higher education. Things like learning outcomes, gaps the market isn’t addressing, and educator participation in the conference. It’s why we were willing to sponsor the conference in 2012 and again this year.

As I wrote earlier this week, the conference took steps in the right direction this year, working with partners to include educators in the programming. Their presence and voice was much more visible this year, even though there is way more to do to integrate their insights and concerns into the investor/entrepreneur vibe.

The closing keynote was completely counter to the progress on that front. I’m not sure what the rationale was for inviting Andy Kessler to deliver the last speech of the conference. He’s known for being politically incorrect, for trying hard to be provocative. He chose to create a dichotomy between teachers and technology, with technology as a replacement for teachers. From a quick look at the twitter stream, attendees of all stripes ranged from derisive of to offended by his talk.

From my point of view, his speech was a bad finish, and a step in the wrong direction. Students need meaningful interactions with each other, with great content, and with their teachers and other caring adults. To claim that any kind of device (tablet, netbook, smart phone, etc) is a suitable replacement for teachers is simply ridiculous.

Think about medical technologies. An enormous amount of R&D and innovation goes into the breakthrough devices and instruments surgical teams use to increase the quality and performance of their work in operating rooms. These technologies are not intended to replace doctors; they are intended to improve their performance and extend their reach as professionals. This is a much better way of thinking about education technology — a way of supporting and extending the work of professionals, not a plot to replace them.

Teachers, Ed-Tech Conferences, and Innovation

Since SXSWedu, a number of bloggers have raised questions about why there aren’t more educators at ed-tech conferences. I met teachers and school leaders at SXSWedu, but this was mostly before and after sessions with pretty low attendance compared with some of the “hot issue” panels populated and attended by the same entrepreneurs, investors, and bloggers who talk at each other at all the conferences. I’m thinking about it this week because I’m at the GSV/ASU Education Innovation Summit. More on that later in the blog.

A couple of weeks ago Shawn Rubin wrote an interesting piece on edsurge. Like me, he saw more educators at SXSW than some of the critics claim. But he points out that teachers who do attend often feel out of step with the content and structure of the gatherings. He says that because teachers aren’t usually the buyers of ed-tech stuff, companies don’t pay serious attention to them. He argues that if teachers were buyers, they would get more attention from suppliers and topics at ed tech conferences would reflect their influence.

My team and I are thinking a lot about this issue. I agree with Shawn’s insight about teachers as buyers and think it is part of a way forward to an ed-tech market that creates more and better options for teachers and students. A number of teacher-focused shifts could contribute to this, here’s a draft list:

  • Better ways to identify and shine a spotlight on needs of teachers and students that ed-tech solutions could help meet. This applies to both learning and workflow scenarios. Sometimes really talented engineers and entrepreneurs work on stuff they think is great, but it doesn’t support a real use case that matters to teachers and kids. More targeted market information that taps the voice of schools, teachers and students and makes it accessible and useful to product developers is one thing that could help here.
  • Real involvement of teachers in the product design and development process. This is different from asking teachers & schools if they will beta test a product, or asking your college roommate who did TFA if he likes your idea. Some of the hot early stage tech companies like Class Dojo, Goalbook, and Clever have former teachers on the founding team. But full-time involvement isn’t a requirement for success. Finding ways to ask teachers what they need from a solution, what it takes to incorporate a new application or tool into a classroom, listening hard, and integrating the feedback into dev cycles can work — it’s just not happening enough.
  • Teachers need more buying power. Teachers buy stuff for their classrooms out of their pockets. One estimate from a couple of years ago was $1 billion a year , or roughly $300 per teacher. Most of this goes to school supplies and other consumables, but low cost apps are becoming part of this mix, too. And teachers download lots of free stuff. What if individual and groups of teachers had a chunk of district and school curriculum budgets in their hands and autonomy to try out and buy things to support their students, without having to go into their own bank accounts? We need some experiments to figure out whether and how this might work.
  • Incentives for entrepreneurs should align with creating value for teachers and students. Once a company finances itself with venture capital, it can be tricky to maintain a focus on the classroom. I’ve talked with a bunch of early stage k-12 founders over the last few months as well as investors in the space, and the time horizons and return expectations of most VC funds can be out of synch with a team’s desire to focus on US schools as customers. This can show up as pressure to forego schools and sell to parents, look to international markets where a rising middle class is spending more money than ever on education, or pivot to higher ed. Many great companies are fine with this, but many others are not. This is a complex issue that a number of mission-driven, smart people are thinking about.

I’m not the only one highlighting these issues, obviously. It’s great that they are getting more visibility. I’ll write more about them over the next few months as we work with partners on understanding and addressing them.

As I said earlier, I’m at Education Innovation Summit in AZ this week. We’re a sponsor again this year. Last year, there was a huge hole in the conference roster and agenda — unlike the SXSWedu myth, I honestly could not find one current teacher or school employee of any type. Companies, investors, foundation people and think tankers, but no educators. It was unnerving.

I raised it immediately following the event with one of the organizers who completely agreed and asked for help making it better in the future. One year later, we’re here in the desert again, and teachers and school leaders are in attendance and spread throughout panels and round tables. Over the next couple of days, I’ll write about how we made it happen, what they are up to, and what still needs work.

In the meantime, what do you think about the draft list of 4 teacher-focused shifts that could strengthen innovation and performance in ed-tech, particularly in digital content and tools for use in classrooms?

$12 million available for personalized learning schools

With our partner Next Generation Learning Challenges, my team recently issued a $12m call for proposals for personalized learning schools. NGLC is running webinars about the program on Tues April 2, more info later in this post.

Eligible school proposals will share the following attributes:

  • Student-Centered: designed to meet the diverse learning needs of each student every day
  • High Expectations: committed to ensuring that every student will meet clearly defined, rigorous standards that will prepare them for success in college and career
  • Self-Pacing & Mastery-Based Credit: enables students to move at their own optimal pace and receive credit when they can demonstrate mastery of the material
  • Blended Instruction: optimizes teacher and technology-delivered instruction in group and individual work
  • Student Ownership: empowers students with skills, information, and tools they need to manage their own learning
  • Financial Sustainability: sustainable on public per-pupil revenue within four years
  • Scalable: designed to serve many more students if it demonstrates impact

Last year we supported NGLC in a similar challenge that generated over 100 applications and 20 winning schools. This year, two types of grants are available for new personalized learning schools that serve grades 6-12.

Launch Grants ($150,000 guaranteed plus up to $300,000 in 1:1 matching funds)

20 grants will be awarded to teams to support the launch of new personalized learning schools that will open in fall 2013 or in fall 2014.

Planning Grants ($100,000 each)

30 grants will be awarded to schools (districts, charter management organizations, aspiring charter entrepreneurs, non-profit and for-profit school developers, state education agencies and other institutions, agencies, or entities) that are planning on opening a new, personalized learning school in fall 2014 or fall 2015. The goal of the planning grant program is to support school developers earlier in the development process and to encourage non-traditional institutions to consider opening new personalized learning schools.

On Tuesday April 2, NGLC is hosting webinars about each type of grant:

Launch Grants: Tuesday April 2 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Eastern

Planning Grants: Tuesday April 2 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. Eastern

Click to: Join the webinars  1-877-944-2300, 99290#

In March, NGLC hosted a kick-off webinar that you can watch here.

We’re excited about the first 20 schools and excited to add up to 50 more to that group through NGLC over the next couple of years.

With $6m to spend on Literacy, why not just build a product?

Earlier this week my team launched the $6m Literacy Solutions Challenge, open to for-profit and nonprofit providers of online content and tools that support Common Core literacy standards, particularly in writing. You can read more about the specifics of the challenge here.

Why in the world are we doing this? I coauthored a blog at Impatient Optimists with Emily Dalton Smith and Robert Torres that talks about the critical need for students to increase their literacy skills and some of nuts and bolts of the The Lit Challenge. The launch of the Challenge generated some great questions about why we settled on literacy and why we chose the challenge structure. So, I thought I would address those here.

The Lit Challenge is designed to fill an important gap in the digital courseware market. We’ve seen a lot of activity in digital math products in the last few years, but the level of activity for literacy solutions doesn’t come close.

In 2010, the entire K-12 supplemental materials market grew more than 10% to nearly $3 billion in sales, including 20% growth in courseware (instructional software) for all subjects. The supplemental English Language Arts (ELA) materials market for grades 4 through 8 is approximately $800 million, 40% of which is digital in some way.

While at first glance this is a healthy, growing market, the detailed sales figures for digital solutions are a little sobering. Nearly half of spending on digital 4th-8th-grade supplemental resources in 2010 was on interactive whiteboards. Courseware (instructional software) for all subjects accounted for only 7% of the market, and digital content (digitized materials) for less than 5%.

Math courseware is a bright spot in the segment. Products such as Reasoning Mind, Dreambox, and ST Math are producing demonstrable learning gains for students. Mathalicious is also a great resource.  Khan Academy, a free resource originally built for self-directed learning, burst into the public consciousness and into classrooms. Dan Meyer, a great math teacher, also has a library of free lessons which include instructional videos for math topics like Algebra and Geometry.

New entrants and new products from existing players in the literacy space have been pale by comparison. And few literacy products can provide even moderate evidence that they positively impact student learning. Scholastic’s terrific Read180 is a notable exception. Based on our analysis of the market, which was corroborated in conversations with educators and investors, this gap presents a major challenge to implementing the Common Core and advancing personalized learning.

But still, why a challenge? Why not set some product criteria and just pay a developer or two to build  solutions that meet the market need we think we identified in conversations with users and buyers? Actually, there are lots of reasons not to take the needle in the haystack approach, but I’ll cover the two main ones in this post.

First, my team and I aren’t interested in (and don’t believe in) the one best product. We are more interested in seeing an increasingly competitive, performance-driven market for literacy courseware, with many innovators tackling tough instructional challenges, and with mechanisms for generating and distributing abundant, transparent information about the attributes and effectiveness of products. This goal is different from looking for THE needle in the haystack or silver-bullet product that will meet most everyone’s needs.

Second, the structure of the challenge focuses simultaneously on strengthening the capacity of buyers and users to identify and articulate their needs more clearly and use them to make solid purchasing decisions. The most innovative teachers and school leaders tell us they are overwhelmingly dissatisfied with their existing options for literacy courseware. They also are able to clearly articulate what they would buy if it were available. We and many analysts we talk with believe this is a leading indicator of where the overall demand-side will move over the next few years. By shining a spotlight on these product attributes now, we aim to catalyze innovators to create solutions for a segment that is poised to take off and will eventually begin to eat into the massive basal textbook segment.

So, by mobilizing customers and the product developers in an organized way, we’re trying to foster healthier market dynamics for the long term.  This is different from Gates or any other donor deciding what everyone needs, funding the creation of it and subsidizing districts & schools to use it.

Around 30 schools will participate as test beds during the challenge, and they’ll select which products they want to try from among the entries. Schools will have free licenses for the products, and teachers will incorporate the solutions into their literacy instruction. An outside evaluation team will be tracking implementation issues and product efficacy. At the end a few winners will be named, and all of the product information generated through usage and evaluation will be made public.

This post is longer than my rule of thumb, but if you made it this far I’d love to hear your reaction to the thinking behind the challenge.

A Teacher’s View of Working with Product and App Developers

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the SLC camp in Silicon Valley, here and here. I described the SLC’s efforts to connect teachers and developers in order to create more useful, effective products. The post generated a good amount of traffic. Since then, a teacher from San Francisco posted an entry on Blend My Learning, a blog channel for educators in blended learning schools. It’s a candid look at one teacher’s experience at the camp, with some critical feedback about how it could be better, and how product developers might interact better with schools and teachers in general. You can check it out here. Feel free to comment on the post here at Thinking out Loud or over on Blend My Learning. I’ll be on the lookout in both places.

Facebook, College Summit & the College Knowledge Challenge

If you ask eighth-graders if they are going to college, 95% of them say yes. But gaps between high- and low-income students develop throughout high school. By age 24, 82% of high-income students earn a bachelor’s degree. The completion rate for low-income young people plummets to 8%. Here’s a look at the numbers at key points in time:

High Income Students Low Income Students
Say going to college – 8th grade 95% 95%
Say going to college – 10th grade 80% 60%
Graduate from high school 94% 70%
Begin college after high school 84% 41%
Finish college by age 24 80%   8%

Last year our team worked with a partner to create a picture of how these numbers map with dynamics that support or inhibit students reaching the college aspirations they all hold in middle school. You can explore a prezi of it here.

We support grantees and partners working to change these numbers in many ways. One project we’re part of aims to create new ways to help young people better navigate the college-going process. We partnered with College Summit and Facebook to launch the College Knowledge Challenge (CKC). My teammate Emily Dalton Smith designed and leads this project (and many others).

CKC is a $2.5m competitive grant fund for developers of Facebook applications aimed at making the college-going process more transparent, collaborative, and easy to navigate for low-income and first generation students. The goal is to spur the development of creative apps that make the most of students’ participation in the world’s largest social network. The CKC was open to for-profit and non-profit developers with ideas for great apps to help students in one of three ways:

  • Helping students build, test, and implement personal academic pathways that grow out of college-career aspirations and are supported by informed decision making.
  • Helping students build social capital and a college-going peer group.
  • Rectifying information asymmetries in college admissions, financial aid, and college selection processes that disadvantage low-income and first generation students.

Last September, CKC kicked off with a day-long hackathon at Facebook headquarters with more than 100 developers, engineers, high school & college students and College Summit mentors:

facebook hack

The hackathon generated a ton of attention for CKC, and College Summit followed up with webinars and other resources to help developers understand key barriers to college for low-income young people. Experts were available throughout the fall to talk with app development teams if they had questions.

In the end, more than 100 teams submitted ideas to CKC. Last week a judging panel of students, experts in the college-going process, technologists, investors, and philanthropists selected 21 winners based on demonstrations of prototypes. Each winning team received $100k to further develop the apps. Next fall, all will be fully functional and widely available.

The project is an example of how our team is trying to catalyze more innovators to work on the same challenges in different ways, rather than always looking for the needle in the haystack. If you get a chance to poke around on the CKC website for more info about the contest parameters and the winners, let me know what you think!

Personalized learning and accelerated student outcomes

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about our support for schools that are redesigning their instructional models in order to personalize learning for students. I listed design principles shared by these schools:

  • Student Centered: designed to meet the diverse learning needs of each student every day
  • High Expectations: committed to ensuring that every student will meet clearly defined, rigorous standards that will prepare them for success in college and career
  • Self-Pacing & Mastery-Based Credit: enables students to move at their own optimal pace, and receive credit when they can demonstrate mastery of the material
  • Blended Instruction: optimizes teacher- and technology-delivered instruction in group and individual work
  • Student Ownership: empowers students with skills, information and tools they need to manage their own learning
  • Financial Sustainability: sustainable on public per-pupil revenue within four years
  • Scalable: designed to serve many more students if it demonstrates impact

In the earlier post I wrote a couple paragraphs about “self-pacing & mastery-based credit” and “student ownership.” I received a few emails asking about specific expectations for performance at the school level, since “high expectations” is listed as a principle. We’re thinking a lot about this with our partners.

Most of the schools we support serve high percentages of students who enter with academic knowledge and skills well below the benchmarks for their grade. To help students catch up, the school teams are designing instructional models and using technologies they hope will accelerate learning gains. The new schools we are funding have a goal of achieving an average of 1.5 years of growth for their students each year.

When I said this in a keynote at a conference in October, some folks in the tweet stream said it was illogical — one year is one year, and whatever a kid learns that year is a year’s worth of learning. That’s true in one sense, but we’re saying something different. Independent assessment instruments often have an objective notion of how many concepts students typically master in a school year and at specific grade levels. When students master fewer or more than these, they are said to achieve less or more than a year’s growth.

A more practical way to think about it is this: Imagine a 9th grader arrives at high school with 7th grade reading and math knowledge and skills.  Unfortunately this is a pretty common phenomenon in low income communities. The only way for this student to graduate in four years meeting 12th grade academic expectations is to learn 1.5 years of material every year.

To evaluate whether their approaches are working, the new personalized school models we fund agree to participate in a common, multi-year research and evaluation study conducted by RAND. The study focuses on learning outcomes, implementation issues, and financial sustainability.

For learning outcomes, “years of growth” will be measured at the student and school level in math, language arts, and problem-solving using the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) adaptive assessment, given at the beginning of the study to establish a baseline and then at the end of each academic year to evaluate growth. RAND will also collect and analyze state test scores, attendance, behavior, and graduation rates and compare them to matched comparison groups, along with non-cognitive measures of grit and academic mindset.

But back to the main idea of the post — regardless of the specific measurement instrument, what do you think about this 1.5 years of growth concept?

What teams of educators and developers can create in 30 hours

A couple of days ago I wrote about my team’s efforts to better connect teachers and developers in order to catalyze better learning applications. In the post, I mentioned last weekend’s SLC Camp app challenge and promised to post something about the winners.

Last year the SLC ran focus groups with 800 teachers from several states and distilled those conversations into 10 scenarios that teachers say are important to them. (You can find them here by clicking “key scenarios.”) SLC camp has run in a number of cities over the last several months, and each time the teams of educators and developers are asked to focus on 2 of the 10 scenarios. At the Silicon Valley camp last weekend, teams were encouraged to create prototype apps that address:

1. Interventions, flagging action, and measurement

2. Communication, collaboration, and sharing

Multiple teams formed around each  scenario. After a 30 hour codeathon and winnowing process, 7 finalists told their stories and showed their prototypes. Here’s a summary of what the three winners came up with in the 30 hour window:

1st place: 3R radar helps teachers communicate with parents about a student’s area of weakness, suggest strategies and activities for assisting, and report back on results. Prize = $5,000 cash plus $1,000 in Amazon Web Services and 4 hours with an AWS Solution Architect.

2nd place: NOTE-e-FI (from CaseNex) helps teachers track and communicate about student performance, attendance and notes. It is designed to facilitate both parent contact and collaboration among staff. Prize = $3,000 cash plus $500 in Amazon Web Services and 1 hour with a Solution Architect.

3rd place: Rapid RtL uses cohorts and smart goals to help teachers design, deliver, monitor, and assess group interventions for students with common needs. Prize = 1,000 cash plus $500 in Amazon Web Services.

You can read descriptions of all seven great ideas here.