The Platform for Revolutionizing Education in the US and the World
Inflection point is an event that changes the way we think and act.
~ Andy Grove, Founder of Intel
SMIS will revolutionize education and help achieve justice and equality for all students.
~ Michael Rachkovsky, Founder of Screen Mentor
The teacher addresses a group of very different students, and teaches them in the same way.
Intelligent Tutor adapts content and style of instruction for each student, allowing the teacher to address the entire classes' needs more effectively in school and at home.
Figure 1: Inclusive Classroom: Two Methods of Teaching
The Intelligent Tutor is able to automatically diagnose root causes of learning problems, provide precisely focused remediation, and make practically all students successful. In traditional classrooms, teachers have little time to address the broad range of student knowledge and learning styles. In a sense, teachers are “colorblind” (in the left part of the figure above, all circles [students] have the same color). The Intelligent Tutors become assistants of teachers, essentially “curing their color-blindness” (in the right part of the figure each circle has a different color and pattern) and helping them to “see” the cognitive state of each student. This ability is critically important, especially in inclusive classrooms, where the variety of cognitive states among students can be very significant.
Reforms Do Not Solve the Education Crisis: The US public education system, especially in the underserved communities, is in crisis. Since the 1960s, “waves of reform in public education haven't produced meaningful achievement gains at the national scale.”1 “In 1971, the initial year for the reading test, the average score for 17-year-olds was 285; in 2008, the average score was 286. The math test started in 1973, when 17-year-olds averaged 304; in 2008, the average was 306”1. In 2015, the situation is getting even worse: “scores on the SAT have sunk to the lowest level since the college admission test was overhauled in 2005”2. Over-reliance on test scores; big classes; shortage of fully prepared math and science teachers; parents, detached from the educational process; overregulation and bureaucracy, destroying creative and innovative culture in our schools3, are some elements of this gloomy picture.
These are some well-known recent examples of education reform failure:
✔ “Small school movement” didn’t succeed.4
✔ “No Child Left Behind” didn’t improve students’ achievement.
✔ The idea of vouchers and school choice is difficult to implement in practice. In addition, this approach causes “brain drain” from the regular public schools because usually the most active and educated parents participate in school selection projects.
✔ The Common Core State Standards initiative may unify curriculum in different US states, but it is not clear how it will improve learning and increase students’ achievement.
✔ Replacing ‘bad’ teachers with an army of talented teachers was a beautiful campaign slogan but even implementation of this unrealistic dream wouldn’t solve the achievement gap problem.
✔ Increasing teachers’ salary is a good idea that will increase prestige of the profession and can improve the quality of teachers in the future, but performance-based compensation cannot increase the effectiveness of current teachers or the achievement of their students. Moreover, analysis in New York City demonstrated that only 3% of teachers were in the “unsatisfactory” category.5
✔ The recent spectacular failure of the highly publicized education reform initiative in Newark, NJ led by celebrity politicians Republican Governor Chris Christie and Democratic Mayor of Newark Cory Booker (now the US Senator) and generously funded by a young entrepreneur and philanthropist, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg6, convincingly demonstrated again that the “traditional reforms” cannot succeed.
Information Technology (IT) in Education: In the early 90s, when the Internet and personal computers were conquering the world and IT revolutionized science, communication, economics, commerce, defense and other industries, many progressive educators, school administrators and scientists were excited and believed that this process would lead to the solution of the education crisis.
The realization of this dream was a slow process. Education is an extremely conservative and complex field, and the initial attempts to introduce IT didn’t correspond with high expectations due to many factors: inadequate experience of teachers and school administrators, technical deficiencies in schools, high cost of laptops, senseless use of software (on average 7-10 min. per day in the public schools7) and the absence in the market of a comprehensive, AI-based software package like SMIS.
Now, 25 years later, the technical problems in schools are, to a significant extent, eliminated, and netbooks and tablets are an order of magnitude less expensive. However, the US educators and politicians are still confused about the value of educational technology because until now there was no company that reliably demonstrated the significant impact of its instructional software on students’ achievements on a large scale.
On the contrary, educators and politicians constantly receive information about the failures of the established companies to introduce educational technology (e.g. the recent and highly publicized collapse of the extremely ambitious $1.3 billion project in the Los Angeles Unified School District to give every student Apple iPad, preloaded with the Pearson curriculum8).
The majority of school districts accept innovation only if it does not disrupt the traditional processes established generations ago. As a result, pragmatic software companies consciously (or subconsciously) develop mostly supplemental educational software, occupying the niche designated for them by the education system and effectively supporting the status quo!
In contrast, Screen Mentor never planned to develop a supplemental software product – our goal is to start a revolution, and the revolutionary situation* is now! The educational technology industry is still in its infancy but it is at the inflection point.
We expect exponential growth of the educational technology industry in the next two to three years and envision huge potential for the uniquely comprehensive and innovative, artificial intelligence and cognitive science-based Screen Mentor Intelligent Suite.
We invite visionary investors and educators to collaborate with us.
*The concept revolutionary situation ("the bottoms don't want and the tops cannot live in the old way“) was coined by V.I. Lenin, the leader of the 1917 Russian Socialist Revolution that led to the Civil War and Stalinism. In contrast, the smooth SMIS revolution will lead to the radical improvement of quality of education and standard of life.
R. J. Samuelson. School reform's meager results. The Washington Post, June 9, 2014, Sep. 6, 2010
N. Anderson. SAT scores at lowest level in 10 years, fueling worries about high schools. The Washington Post, Sep. 3, 2015
P. Howard. Life without Lawyers: Liberating Americans from Too Much Law. W.W. Norton & Company, 2009.
V. Strauss. How much Bill Gates’s disappointing small-schools effort really cost. The Washington Post, June 9, 2014
Unsatisfactory: The Distribution of Teacher Quality in New York City. Jan. 2013
D. Russakoff. Schooled. Cory Booker, Chris Christie, and Mark Zuckerberg had a plan to reform Newark’s schools. They got an education. The New Yorker, May 19, 2014.
M. Dynarski et al. Effectiveness of Reading and Mathematics Software Products: Findings from the First Student Cohort. Report to Congress, 2007