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  • A Place for the Private Sector in Global Education

    by LearnEd

    Students looking at a tablet device

    Better Learning, Serving Communities

    "In recent years, the debate around how to fix global education has shifted," writes Pearson CEO John Fallon in this LinkedIn post. "It is no longer enough just to talk about getting every child into school (though, alas, not because that has been solved.)"

    "Just as important is what happens when they're there," he writes.

    John calls out "brave innovators" around the world who are "exploring how new teaching and learning approaches can serve their communities."

    "Where governments are sometimes unable to take on risks, entrepreneurs and startups can focus on the most difficult challenges in education—job readiness, early childhood education, or teacher training—and make a big difference in a short space of time, from which the public sector can eventually benefit."

    Affordable Learning

    In 2012, Pearson launched the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund, also called PALF.

    "We believed we were uniquely placed to combine the knowledge of which learning models worked with the investment needed to succeed," writes PALF Managing Director Katelyn Donnelly in her recent report for 2015.

    "The Pearson Affordable Education Fund would have a laser focus on education companies in the developing world demonstrating high learning gains for low cost," she writes—across Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

    "With our partners," John Fallon writes, "we have helped educate 350,000 people, many of whom would not have had an education, let alone a good one."

    "And importantly," he writes, "they are all solutions that are based on sound business plans, so are sustainable, scalable, and replicable."

    The Avanti Program in India

    One of the first recipients of support from the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund was Avanti, a test prep company in Mumbai, India that supports low-income high-school students with college entrance exams, focusing on science and mathematics.

    This video explains how the program is working through the story of student Sanjeev Meena in Raghogarh, India:

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  • Why Minorities Can't Be Left Out of Gifted and Talented Programs

    by LearnEd

    Abstract illustration

    Expanding Horizons

    "There are sometimes appropriate criticisms about gifted and talented programs," says Dr. Katie McClarty, who directs Pearson's Center for College and Career Success. "For example, some systems are accused of being elitist because they are primarily comprised of children from affluent families. But you shouldn't throw out entire programs."

    "Every gifted child—whatever her background or experience—deserves a gifted learning education. All children deserve to have their horizons expanded."

    Barriers and Challenges to Diversity in Gifted Programs

    A recent study from Jason A. Grissom and Christopher Redding at Vanderbilt University tries to unpack the reasons behind "substantial race disparities" that exist in America's gifted and talented education systems.

    Katie suggests at least two reasons for these disparities. They are summarized below.

    "Research shows that some students from impoverished backgrounds show up in kindergarten already behind academically," Katie says. "So if schools rely entirely on test scores for placement in programs, more affluent students might benefit disproportionately."

    School systems have addressed this challenge in different ways.

    "Some schools adjust identification cut-off scores for students depending on their background," Katie says. "Other schools look for assessments with less reliance on prior knowledge such as non-verbal ability tests."

    "For many, the gold standard for identifying gifted and talented students is the use of multiple measures and looking at a portfolio of the whole child," Katie says. "Using this approach, there are multiple ways for a student to get in to be identified and receive services."

    "Still, this approach is time consuming for schools who want to do it right."

    Katie also points out that, for school systems like the one in Broward County, Florida, a "universal screening" approach—that is, administering an ability test to every student in the school, rathan than a preselected few—has actually improved diversity in their gifted education program. She's referring to reporting presented in this article in The Atlantic.

    limited training

    In many gifted programs, teacher nomination or teacher ratings are part of the identification process. "The Grissom and Reading article suggests that teacher race may play an important role in identifying students for gifted and talented programs, perhaps through implicit biases" Katie says.

    "For example," she says, "after controlling for academic achievement as well as student, teacher, and school characteristics, Asian students were more likely to be identified for gifted math programs—reflecting a stereotype of their better performance in mathematics."

    "In addition," Katie says, "Black students taught by Black teachers were three times more likely to be identified for gifted reading programs than Black students taught by non-Black teachers."

    This may be related to biases, but Katie also says a lot of teachers don't have experience identifying gifted and talented students, particularly from different backgrounds. "Many teachers have no real training," she says.

     Why Minorities Can't Be Left Out

    “By not identifying students in low-income and minority groups," Katie says, "you’re effectively overlooking half the student population.”

    “Studies show that students with high potential who are challenged early in their education go on to be future leaders and make significant contributions in companies and universities,” she says.

    Katie says: "Diversity benefits everyone.”

    "It’s important that these future leaders have the opportunity to learn what they learn alongside people from different backgrounds."


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  • Helping Your Student With Their Stress

    by LearnEd

    Tree illustration

    Challenges That Are Good For Learning

    We've covered something called the "productive struggle" in a previous LearnED story.

    It's a concept in learning, according to Brad Ermeling at Pearson's Center for Educator Learning and Effectiveness, that's

    based on "a large body of research in psychology and math education" that indicates "some forms of struggle are actually productive for student learning.”

    Often, there are positive benefits as students grapple with tough concepts. And as parents and teachers help their children find the right balance between productive struggle and academic-related anxiety, there are a number of tactics they can use to keep their students on the right path.

    Deal With Stress

    stress1Be mindful of your own stress.

    Parents can pass on stress.

    Kids often say the biggest cause of stress is their parents, notes educational psychologist Michele Borba. Be sure to manage your expectations when you communicate with children and make sure they know you love them no matter the grades they get.


    Stress2Listen to what your child is saying.

    When listening to your child about stress, be sure you’re really listening, writes Christine French Cully, editor in chief of Highlights for Children, Inc.

    Sixty-two percent of kids in a "Highlights" survey reported their parents are sometimes distracted when they talk to them. Cell phones ranked as the number one distraction.


    stress3Teach healthy habits.

    Research has shown that a healthy breakfast positively impacts academic performance, according to the NBC Parent Toolkit, supported by Pearson. A breakfast rich in nutrients will help your child stay alert during periods of high focus.

    It’s also important to make sure they are getting enough sleep the night before.


    Article Spotlight

    Parents who have math anxiety are likely passing that stress along to their kids when they attempt to help with homework.

    That’s according to recent recent published in Psychological Science and reported in The New York Times that shows children whose parents had math anxiety learned less math and were more anxious the more their parents provided help on their math homework.

    “The parents are not out to sabotage their kids,” Sian L. Beilock, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Chicago, tells the Times. “But we have to ensure their input is productive. They need to have an awareness of their own math anxiety and that what you say is important.”


    You can find additional resources for parents at Please visit our Facebook page to share tips and information about what’s most relevant to parents and caregivers when it comes to kids and learning.

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John Fallon

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