WASHINGTON and BALTIMORE, Dec. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Students in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Georgia will benefit from a new $5 million grant to develop a national model for increasing educational opportunities for students attending small and rural schools. The Association of Education Services Agencies (AESA) and Catapult Learning, LLC, a leading provider of public school, non-public school, and community based education services -- including the free tutoring services required under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) -- have been awarded the grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Innovation and Improvement. The primary goal of the five-year grant is to establish a replicable, streamlined contracting and purchasing system so that small and rural school districts have greater access to high quality supplemental instructional programs or supplemental educational services (SES) under NCLB. Under the grant, AESA and Catapult Learning will partner with the Wood County Educational Service Center (WCESC) of Ohio; the Tuscarora Intermediate Unit 11 of Pennsylvania (TIU); and the Central Savannah River Area Regional Educational Service Agency (CSRA RESA) of Georgia to establish a pilot purchasing program that is an effective, highly scalable and replicable model for Educational Service Agencies and Local Education Agencies around the country to use in facilitating the delivery and implementation of supplemental instruction and supplemental educational services under NCLB. During the pilot program, 2,300 Pennsylvania, Ohio and Georgia students will receive live, individualized, direct instruction delivered through Catapult Learning's online tutoring system, a proven, research-based online tutoring program. In Catapult's online program, students are taught according to individualized learning plans that are generated from a pre-program online assessment. Utilizing the eSylvan technology platform, a combination of electronic white boarding and voice-over-internet-protocol (voip) communications capabilities, certified teachers work with students to address the skill gaps identified through the pre-assessment. Each participating student will receive a new computer and free Internet access as a part of the program. "Too many rural students are not receiving the high-quality supplemental support they deserve and, despite their hard efforts, many rural and small schools are struggling to implement after-school tutoring programs to serve students with the greatest academic need," said Nina Rees, Deputy Undersecretary of Education, U.S. Department of Education. "With this grant, our goal is to leverage the partnership between the participating school districts, AESA and Catapult Learning to create a model system for rural and small school districts to use in accessing the additional education options they need to succeed." Over the course of five (5) years, AESA and Catapult Learning will: * Develop an effective consortium of small/rural school districts in Georgia, Ohio and Pennsylvania; * Design and administer a streamlined collective purchasing arrangement among the small/rural school districts represented in the consortium; and, * Facilitate the registration, sign-up, enrollment and contracting process, and delivery of tutoring services for 2,300 students from the three states. "We all know that limited resources, lean staffs and geographic barriers are significant contributing factors to the ongoing obstacles rural and small schools face in meeting the academic needs of students. This grant is a shot in the arm for these communities," said Brian Talbott, Executive Director, Association of Educational Service Agencies. "Not only does this grant provide resource to serve some immediate needs in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Georgia, but, more importantly, it will create a cost-effective process all ESAs can use to deliver additional educational services to students in rural and remote communities." A new report by the Government Accounting Office (GAO) * found that many small and rural school districts have had difficulties implementing supplemental services programs due to geographic isolation, limited choice of providers and few participating students. The work AESA and Catapult Learning will conduct under this grant is intended to establish a model for serving the 6.6 million students who attend small and rural schools across the country. Additionally, the online tutoring program will answer the GAO's call for additional resources to small and rural districts to help them implement NCLB, including the supplemental educational services provision. "We are challenged and energized by the opportunity to serve a segment of the student population that needs -- and deserves -- access to high quality educational services," said Jeffrey Cohen, President of Catapult Learning. "By working in concert with education service agencies, we believe we can help many students improve academically, and provide a valuable service to rural and small schools throughout the country." The grant is from the Fund for the Improvement of Education, which supports nationally significant programs and projects to improve the quality of education, and is housed in the Department's Office of Innovation and Improvement. Work under this grant is fully financed by the United States Department of Education. No Child Left Behind is the landmark education reform law designed to improve America's schools by closing the achievement gap, offering more flexibility, giving parents more options, and teaching students based on what works. Under NCLB, schools deemed "in need of improvement" for two consecutive years (missing "adequate yearly progress" goals on standardized tests for three consecutive three years), are required to offer free tutoring, or "supplemental educational services" to low income students attending those schools. These supplemental educational services programs are an integral part of many districts' school improvement plans. * "No Child Left Behind: Additional Assistance and Research on Effective Strategies Would Help Small Rural Districts." (GAO-04-909), September, 2004 About AESA The Association of Education Service Agencies is a 501(c)(6) tax-exempt, nonprofit corporation headquartered in Arlington, VA. AESA is a national organization representing over 630 Educational Service Agencies in 43 states. The mission of AESA and the ESAs they support is to provide services and experiences, which result in increased student learning. About Catapult Learning Catapult Learning is a leading provider of public school, non-public school, and community based education services, including supplemental reading and math instruction; speech, occupational and physical therapy; and early childhood development programs. Catapult Learning partners with schools and school districts to provide high-quality, research-based supplemental education services, including those called for through the enactment of the landmark No Child Left Behind Act. Catapult Learning is a sister company of Sylvan Learning Center, which operates well-known tutoring centers in locations across North America. Both companies are owned by parent company, Educate, Inc. More information on Catapult Learning can be found at www.catapultlearning.com. About Educate, Inc. Educate, Inc. (Nasdaq: EEEE) is a leading pre-K-12 education services company that delivers site-, school- and home-based education solutions as Sylvan Learning Centers, which operates a network of centers providing supplemental, remedial and enrichment instruction in the United States and Canada; Catapult Learning, which provides supplemental education programs primarily to students in schools; and eSylvan, which provides live, online tutoring via the internet. More information on Educate, Inc. can be found at www.educate-inc.com. Forward-looking Statements This release includes information that could constitute forward-looking statements made pursuant to the safe harbor provision of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such forward-looking statements may involve risk and uncertainties. Although the company believes that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, Catapult Learning's actual results could differ materially from these described in the forward-looking statements. The following factors might cause such a difference: Catapult Learning's ability to effectively manage business growth; possible increased competition from other educational service providers; changes in customer relationships; the seasonality of operating results; global economic conditions, including interest and currency rate fluctuations, and inflation rates. Additional information regarding these risk factors and uncertainties is detailed from time to time in Educate, Inc.'s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, available for viewing on Educate, Inc.'s website www.educate- inc.com. (To access this information on Educate, Inc.'s website, click on "Investor Relations," "SEC Filings".) Neither Catapult Learning nor Educate, Inc. undertake any obligation to update or revise publicly any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
SOURCE Catapult Learning