UF Lastinger Center partners to create free online app to help students prep for Algebra end-of-course exam

Don Pemberton, director of the University of Florida Lastinger Center for Learning

More than 40 percent of Florida middle and high school students failed the spring 2012 Algebra 1 End-of-Course, or EOC, exam. Vulnerable children fared even worse. In many high-needs schools, the failure rate topped 80 percent.

Florida students must pass the Algebra 1 EOC to earn a high school diploma.

“Algebra is a key STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subject,” said Don Pemberton, who directs the University of Florida College of Education’s Lastinger Center. “It serves as a gatekeeper to success in high school and beyond.”

To help students succeed on the 2013 EOC exam, the UF Lastinger Center has joined forces with Gainesville-based Study Edge to create Algebra Nation – an intensive, accessible, easy-to-use, free, 24/7 online preparation resource.

UF education professors have dissected the material tested on the EOC and aligned Algebra Nation with the latest state standards.

“Algebra Nation is based on the latest research and best practices,” Study Edge founder and president Ethan Fieldman said. “And it features some of Florida’s top math teachers.”

Algebra Nation launches as a free app statewide Jan. 15. This represents the first phase in a grand effort to help accelerate and upgrade learning throughout Florida. UF and Study Edge plan to create and roll out Geometry Nation, Biology Nation and other EOC exam preparation resources next year.

These cutting-edge online resources utilize social learning and technological breakthroughs to construct and stage a vibrant e-learning system for students, teachers and parents. Intuitive and interactive, they offer differentiated instruction through live and asynchronous tutoring, as well as other effective learning tools.

“We are deeply respectful of educators and have designed Algebra Nation as a powerful supplemental tool,” said Pemberton, a member of Gov. Rick Scott’s educational transition team. “At a time when teachers are being evaluated on their students’ standardized test scores, they need targeted supports, particularly when it comes to preparing for the End-of-Course exams. Algebra Nation is the answer.”

Study Edge has achieved success at improving college student outcome. Fieldman, its founder and president, was the first winner of the Cade Museum Prize for Innovation. Study Edge experts have succeeded not only at the college level but also with a test-prep program for AP courses at Boca Raton Community High School over the past five years.

Housed in the UF College of Education, the Lastinger Center is an educational innovation incubator. It harnesses the university’s intellectual resources to design, build, field-test and scale models that advance teaching, learning and healthy child development. The Center continuously evaluates and refines its work, widely disseminates its findings and roots its initiatives in a growing network of partner sites around the state and the country.

SOURCE: Don Pemberton, director, UF Lastinger Center for Learning; dpemberton@coe.ufl.edu, 352-273-4108
WRITER/MEDIA LIAISON: Boaz Dvir, UF Lastinger Center for Learning; bdvir@coe.ufl.edu, 352-273-0289