The Goal is to improve learning in math and science and inspire students by helping them understand that Learning Makes a Difference.
The Call to Action
As a nation we are falling behind other countries in mathematics and science. The Hart-Rudman Commission identified the nation’s failure in math and science education as the second-biggest threat to our national security. The 2008 national high school graduation rate was an alarming 69.9 percent, Georgia was 56 percent. The Alliance for Excellent Education reports that each year over 59,300 students in Georgia do not graduate and there will be more than $15.4 billion in lost wages, taxes, and productivity over the lifetimes of the 2007 dropouts alone. As a way to potentially reach one student at a time, the LMD Foundation implemented Learn & Earn in January 2008 as a pilot program to test the use of money to motivate students to achieve in mathematics and science.
Learn and Earn – A Pilot Program with Proven Results
The Pilot Learn and Earn program was implemented by the LMD Foundation but conceived of by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, championed by Fulton County Commissioner Robb Pitts and funded by a donation from Charles Loudermilk, founder, chairman and CEO of Aaron Rents Inc. The Learn & Earn Final Report, conducted last spring by an independent research organization, demonstrated both positive and consistently successful results. Prior to Learn and Earn, 30 student participants were nearly failing in math and science. While attending small-group tutoring (4 hours a week and receiving $8 an hour for participation), Learn and Earn students started applying themselves and by the end of the year outperformed the comparison group of similar students in math and science. During focus groups students reported elevated levels of self-confidence and an increased commitment to learning. Below are a few student comments about the importance of the tutoring program:
- “I don’t feel stupid anymore. It actually works if you pay attention.”
- “At first I didn’t like school, but now that I am bringing up my grades, I like school more and want to go to high school and college.”
- “In the program they try to help you; in class you either get it or you don’t.”
- “I don’t participate in class because I feel like people are going to laugh at me. But I participate more in after school because you can ask questions and the people around you are in the same situation.”.
Phase 2 – Learn, Earn & Achieve
Because the pilot program proved to be a success, the Fulton County School Board and the LMD Foundation will launch Phase 2 in 2009. Learn, Earn & Achieve will provide math and science tutoring to eighth and eleventh grade students who are all considered at risk of dropping out of school but have academic potential. An emphasis will be placed on recognizing and rewarding academic achievement. Each participant will create an Individual Education Plan for math and science and be evaluated and rewarded based on meeting specific benchmarks and grade percentage increases. Learn, Earn & Achieve will also incorporate students who participated last year in Learn & Earn as volunteer peer coaches.
Blueprinting Learn, Earn & Achieve for Expansion
The LMD Foundation will blueprint the Learn, Earn & Achieve program to share with school districts and educators around the country who have shown interest in creating a similar initiative. There are many similar motivational learning programs being implemented but Learn, Earn & Achieve is the only program focusing specifically on mathematics and science by providing specialized after-school tutoring for students.
Leverage – An Innovative and Meaningful Investment
The cost of implementing Phase 2- Learn, Earn & Achieve is $100,000. The short term impact of this investment is changing lives of student participants. The long term impact is providing the ability to leverage a successful program and share the blueprint with others, reinforcing the belief that Learning does Make a Difference.
- Learn and Earn Video
- Learn and Earn Press
- Learn and Earn Media Press Book
- Chronicle of Philanthropy Article
- Public Comments in response to Fox News May 15, 2008 story: Should Students Get Paid to Study
- Press Release July 31, 2008: Students paid for studying show improvements in math and science
- Executive Summary