AESA, Catapult Learning Awarded $5 Million U.S. Department of Education Grant to Develop Tutoring Model for Rural/Small Schools

Dec 01, 2004, 00:00 ET from Catapult Learning

    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
     "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;
      *  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
     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
     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-  (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

SOURCE Catapult Learning