LearnED is a place to learn about learning—because great learning can lead to great opportunities, and great opportunities can lead you and your family wherever you want to go.

Latest Stories

  • Future-Focused Learning and the Workforce Pipeline

    by LearnEd

    Mother and daughter

    A tease graphic for a diagram later in the document titled "Middle school indicators that can help measure college readiness."
    SEE BELOW for full diagram.

    Learning and Career

    "If Pearson puts learning at the center of everything we do," says Leah Jewell, Managing Director of Workforce Readiness at Pearson. "Then we can't ignore why people go to college."

    For many, college is a means to getting a job.

    So Leah and her colleagues are asking two questions in an effort to align learning with a constructive path to a student's career:

    'A Lot More Than Just An Assessment'

    Leah and her Pearson colleagues have developed a Career Success Program with coaching to help start answering the first question.

    Early on, the program introduces students to learning pathways that match their interests and aptitudes.

    "The project helps students gain self knowledge," Leah says. "Students explore careers, learn how to network, and build various skills with the help of career coaches."

    "It could be done in class, over one or two years," Leah says. "It's a lot more than just an assessment."

    The Career Success Program launched this year. In most cases, students are going through the program in their first year of college.

    Measuring College Readiness

    A recent paper was published "to clarify the readiness landscape," because "popular conceptions of college and career readiness are broadening beyond strictly academic competencies like literacy and numeracy.

    "On Track: Redefining Readiness in Education and the Workplace" was authored by Matthew Gaertner, David Conley, and Paul Stoltz. (You can download a PDF copy here.)

    "Educators and employers," writes lead author Matthew Gaertner, "may find it difficult to separate signal from noise and focus on the readiness paradigms that suit their needs."

    Filling in Gaps and the Workforce Pipeline

    The "On Track" paper is an effort to help teachers and parents speak the same language about students and their readiness for college and beyond.

    "The college-readiness index was created to address gaps in research," according to the report. This broad index, used as a tool by Pearson, is intended to "provide students, parents, and teachers earlier, more actionable readiness diagnoses across a diversity of academic and non-academic domains."

    Pearson has identified a list of "middle school indicators," six factors that ladder up to an overall score for college readiness.

    Translating the Scores

    Aggregating scores in these areas, then combining that data with high school standardized test scores, offers a fairly accurate picture of how a student may or may not be ready for college—and beyond.

    Katie McClarty, who heads Pearson's Center for College & Career Success, says "conventional ways of assessing academic achievement don't do much more than that: measure academic achievement. It likely misses out on key insights about the whole student."

    The "On Track" report goes on to claim: "School systems and the labor market are beginning to care a bit less about what students know at a fixed point in time, and a bit more about how they are able to continue to learn and to apply knowledge in novel and non-routine ways in real-world settings."

    read more
  • 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:

    read more
  • 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."


    read more
  • 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 ParentToolkit.com. 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.

    read more
  • 4 Ways to Prepare Students for Their Future Career

    by LearnEd

    Illustration of kids playing

    A Looming Jobs Problem

    Only 11 percent of business leaders say graduating college students are "well prepared for success at work." That's according to a recent Gallup survey.

    Another survey of parents for NBC News, State of Parenting: A Snapshot of Today's Families, found a little over 40 percent of parents who say the education provided for children in their neighborhood "at the elementary, middle, and high school level is preparing them to enter the job market if they choose not to go to college."

    Future PotentialFinding Balance

    While Millennials and the generations to follow face a different job market than the one of their predecessors, there are steps parents and teachers can take to develop students' future potential.

    "At Pearson, we're helping people take meaningful, measurable steps in their lives through access to better learning," says Leah Jewell, the company's managing director of Workforce Readiness.

    This includes equipping learners with the 21st century skills they need—including critical thinking, problem solving, and interpersonal skills—to succeed in the global workforce of tomorrow.

    Prepared for a Career

    Two sets of skills will help students on this path to a career: technical skills and social skills. Technical skills include working knowledge of practical applications such as coding or robotics. Social skills, also known as soft skills described previously in LearnED, include traits such as adaptability, resilience, and optimism.

    Here are four major areas that parents and teachers can use to help students to be more career ready:

    You can find more resources for parents at ParentToolkit.com. Please visit our Facebook page to share tips and information on what’s most relevant to parents and families when it comes to kids and learning.

    read more