Despite the number of educational organizations, the achievement gap between high-income and low-income students continues to grow. In 2005, only 11% and 8% of black eighth graders were proficient in reading and math, respectively, compared with 37% of white students (NAEP). Often communities need after school programs or alternative schools but aren’t aware of what options exist. Similarly, there are schools and education organizations doing great things, but not enough people know about them. LinkEducation answers this need as the only website that puts all education-related resources in one place, easily accessible by low-income communities.
There are many technological innovations being developed in the world of education. However, these innovations are not being developed to support children beyond the classroom. There is currently no one centralized location where a parent can go to navigate the many opportunities available to their children. LinkEducation is unique in its move from a school-centric focus toward the empowerment of parents to actively engage in and directly affect their children’s education both in and outside of the classroom. Through this website we can help close the achievement gap by efficiently delivering education information, resources, and services to low-income students.
However, while LinkEducation.org already provides parents, schools and organizations with an easy and efficient way to connect, navigating the education system is still a daunting task. LinkEducation proposes to create Special Interest Guides will help to remedy this problem. The guides will address issues such as Special Education, Gifted and Talented, and School Choice. They will include items such as answers to frequently asked questions and tips on when to start a particular process (e.g. when is the most critical time to look into school options for school choice). Starting in the Fall, LinkEducation will form a committee of experts in each focus area to help research, collect, and write the content for the particular guide.
While the resource guides will serve as an adequate starting point for parents to begin the process of finding help for their child, they will undoubtedly provoke more questions. To accommodate this need, the website will include a discussion forum dedicated to each of these issues. Parents can share stories about what has worked for them or ask questions when they encounter obstacles. Members of the committee of experts will moderate the forum to guarantee that parents receive quality information in an appropriate amount of time. Beyond making the discussion forum searchable by keyword and location, the LinkEducation team will also establish a group functionality designed to allow users involved in special education to create their own network within the LinkEducation online community – be it around specific geographic areas or special areas of interest such as Autism or ADHD.
LinkEducation will utilize the Plum Grant to complete the research and writing process necessary to create the Special Interest Guides.