The Vreeland Institute has supported exceptional projects in PK-12 education and eLearning since the beginning. One of these projects has been the OpenVES (Virtual Education Space) project originally started in Massachusetts in 1999. For many years OpenVES provided its XL eLearning platform free to students and teachers around the world. OpenVES pioneered online assessments, standards based competency profiles, and individual learning plans.
The SUMMERTEK project was part of an engagement of OpenVES with the Connecticut Department of Education. In this project we were evaluating the intrinsic rewards of a gamified learning system to motivate Middle School students to participate in individualized learning activities and challenges during their summer vacations. The participation by students and their academic achievements were stunning.
The Institute provided a grant to the Southern Berkshire Regional School District to help it remediate problematic mathematics scores on the statewide MCAS tests. Over 75% of 5th and over 50% of 6th graders had failed their state math tests. We proposed an intensive, individualized, summer math program for volunteer students. We incentivised the program by promising any student who not only remediated their failing scores, but could go on to achieve mastery of the next grade level during that summer, would receive two rewards: a laptop computer, and a chance to "opt out" of the next year's math course and take advanced work or independent study. The week after school ended in June we had 2/3 of the students in both grades register for SUMMERMATH.
We provided a certified master teacher (Brenda Mathisen) and hired other teachers and high school students as mentors. The program included diagnostic assessments all the way back to 2nd grade math. We then prepared individualized learning plans for each student and gave them activities they could use to master those skills they needed to succeed. We focused on empowering them to understand the learning standards and learn on their own. By the end of the summer dozens of students had not only learned the grade level they had failed, but mastered the next grade level of math as well.
For 6 years we participated with Jackson State University in providing assessment tools and professional development for hundreds of Mississippi teachers to help improve their Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) teaching skills.