Education in America is lacking. Schools are consistently striving to obtain good standardized test scores, sacrificing an actual learning environment. Teachers are overworked and underpaid. Districts are struggling to make ends meet, which leaves students without the tools they need to feel empowered and ready for the future. On average, across the U.S., 19% of students drop out of high school with some areas seeing a 40% loss of students by their senior year. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, many students, up to a quarter, that do graduate 12th grade do so below a basic reading level. If looking at the basic statistics is overwhelming try factoring in learning disabilities, students who need special care or tutoring and the probability they will fall through the cracks.
If there ever was an environment where start-ups could enter the field and change the game, education may be it. And some are playing to win.
Technology and the access that is currently available to websites, apps and online tools makes it possible to raise the bar on education. Kids could get the lessons they need through computer programs and apps. Different versions could reach different learning styles, kids could pace according to their knowledge and understanding and parents and teachers both could track progress and get important data to help formulate new lessons and studies so everyone has a chance. Reading Rainbow knew this when they launched the Kickstarter to break all Kickstarters in order to make literacy more accessible to more kids, and they aren’t the only ones in the market. For example, students that have been diagnosed with Autism often respond really well to technology and Infiniteach is taking advantage of that by making it possible for teachers and parents to customize lessons and help students excel. What better way to help thousands of students get the individualized lesson that they need than through something as accessible as an app?
Kids can learn to read, improve math skills, study for tests, get notes and outlines, even play games that increase their knowledge in everything from writing composition to foreign languages.
If looking at what the world needs and responding with a business plan is what start-ups are all about, those that are taking on education are poised to influence a arena that will change our nation’s job outlook, innovation, political process and everything in between because educated people make a stronger, more stable country, they bring new ideas, they affect the future in a positive way.
Do you think education should be a focus of start-ups? Could it be influenced by the tech realm with success? Or are these efforts a futile attempt to patch up a failing system? Let us know @StarterNoise using #EducateMe
Image: Brad Flickinger via Flickr, www.SchoolTechnology.org Elementary students using the iPad in school.