11.2.10 – Michael F. Shaughnessy – The I CAN Learn® IIS is a research-proven, interactive, self-paced software solution that allows students to learn math at their own pace, engage with the program, and ultimately learn in a more effective manner.
John R. Lee is President of I CAN Learn® Education Systems
Michael F. Shaughnessy
Eastern New Mexico University
Portales, New Mexico
1) John, what is the scoop on this I CAN Learn Education System. Is this on line or a C.D. or what?
First, thank you so much for the opportunity to speak with you today.
The I CAN Learn® IIS is a research-proven, interactive, self-paced software solution that allows students to learn math at their own pace, engage with the program, and ultimately learn in a more effective manner. In addition to school, district and statewide installations across the country, we give individual users the opportunity to subscribe to the online version of the program at www.icanlearnonline.com.
Students across the country struggle to get through the “algebra gateway” in middle and high school as they fail to grasp key concepts. Our program is a solution to this national problem. We can help kids excel in algebra, graduate high school, succeed in college and perhaps ultimately pursue a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) career, which is critical for our nation’s economic well-being. Everyone agrees our old-fashioned teaching approach in these subject areas is not working and our program has consistently proven through fifteen years of scientifically based research to be an effective remedy.
2) What exactly is the academic focus of this program?
We currently offer curriculum in four areas: Fundamentals of Math, Pre-Algebra, Algebra and Geometry. The program includes over 500 lessons which capture the best instructional methods and deliver instruction through technology on a one-on-one basis to every student. Many teachers struggle to meet the needs of all their students in large class sizes. Our program ensures kids are being appropriately challenged and gives teachers the freedom to work with students individually. Independent research found that our program teaches one and a half years of Algebra in just one year. This is the Race to the Top definition of a highly effective teacher. It is not a stretch to say that our program can make every math/Algebra teacher a highly effective math/Algebra teacher.
All our curricula are aligned with the highest National Council of Teachers of Mathematics standards. Recently, our program also confirmed its alignment with the Common Core Standards and the program is an approved textbook in California, Oklahoma and Tennessee.
3) Who is it designed for? What grade, age etc?
The I CAN Learn® IIS is used by fifth graders all the way through students attending junior colleges. It is designed for students of all abilities as each semester begins with the Diagnostic Placement Test, which determines the strengths and weaknesses of each student’s math knowledge. This allows for the development of individualized lesson plans so teachers can ensure every student is working at the right pace.
4) How long has this program been in development?
Development began in 1991, and the first implementation began in the 1994/1995 school year. Over one million students have used our program in elementary, middle, junior high and senior high schools, and community colleges across the U.S. It is currently being used in 34 states in addition to Washington D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
5) Has there been any research on this?
The I CAN Learn® IIS is supported by over a decade and a half of peer reviewed scientifically based research showing it is the only math program statistically proven to positively impact student achievement. The U.S. Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse recently updated its online database of middle school math interventions and our program remains the only intervention to earn a “++” or “Positive Effects” rating, the highest possible score. This rating is based on five recent studies that included over 16,500 eighth-grade students from middle schools across the country.
A further study, conducted by researchers from Princeton University and published last year in The American Economic Journal, concluded that by using the program schools can close the achievement gap by nearly one-third on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), particularly in low-income and high minority schools. It also found that students can learn 1.5 years of Algebra content in one year and districts can improve test scores and save money, as the study concluded the system costs districts less than it would cost to reduce class size from 25 to 15 students.
6) How would a math teacher get a sample? Or see a sample lesson?
The easiest way to learn more about the program is to visit our website, www.icanlearn.com. Anyone interested can also call us at (888) 263-1390 as well as sign up for our monthly newsletter by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
7) Has this been used with high school or elementary students or college students?
Our program has been used by elementary, high school and college students. The I CAN Learn® IIS curricula is appropriate for fifth graders all the way through students attending junior colleges. When we first developed the program, we found you can not just launch into teaching algebra in middle and high schools because many students lack fundamental math skills required to understand the topic. So we developed software to help kids establish this critical foundation of skills before moving on to algebra. This way teachers using our program can be sure students are learning the full-spectrum of math content over the period of a few years.
8) What have I neglected to ask?
As educators across the country join together to reform our education system, we are playing an important role in the process. Our program aligns with administration priorities like those outlined in the Race to the Top and Investing in Innovation competitive grant programs. Last month Tennessee approved the I CAN Learn® IIS as a professional development provider for Race to the Top throughout the state.
Also, our program continues to see positive data nationwide. In the past year we’ve seen great numbers in Connecticut, California and everywhere in between. At one urban Los Angeles middle school, 93 percent of students using the program improved their score on the statewide exam after using the program. Sixty-four percent of students at the school scored proficient or above, 13 points above the district average. This is a significant achievement when you consider that when we began working with the district in 2005, they were well below the district and state averages. Similar results were seen in Hartford, Connecticut, Johnston County, Oklahoma and elsewhere.
9) Do you have a web site? What is the link?