Responding to a new independent study that found its seven-year, $45 million effort to strengthen K-12 public school education has resulted in significant gains, IBM has announced it will contribute an additional $25 million in cash, research, and technology to expand access to its Reinventing Education program to millions of additional students and teachers.

The new grants will expand IBM’s Reinventing Education program to support teacher training colleges that work in partnership with school districts to develop new, more effective ways to prepare and train teachers. Reinventing Education currently impacts more than 10 million K-12 students in school districts across 17 states and eight countries outside the United States.

According to a three-year independent evaluation by the Center for Children and Technology (CCT), part of Education Development Center Inc. of Newton, Mass., innovative Reinventing Education solutions “are having a significant positive effect on student achievement.” The CCT evaluators were able to document “substantial gains in performance for students in grades seven, eight, nine, 10, and 11 as a result of Reinventing Education solutions breaking down significant barriers to high academic achievement.”

“Improving education is hard work. If we expect to boost teacher quality and drive real improvements in student achievement, we have to invest in some radically different approaches,” said Louis V. Gerstner Jr., IBM chief executive and co-chair of Achieve. “Reinventing Education has succeeded … because it focuses on eliminating barriers that stand between our children and academic success–improving teacher quality, forging new linkages between home and school, giving teachers the tools to succeed. Now it is time to scale up and accelerate the success.”

Described by the CCT study as “a unique initiative among the efforts to reform education,” IBM’s Reinventing Education was launched in 1994 with the goal of transforming U.S. public school education by applying the company’s research and development resources and technology to develop practical solutions for education reform.

Focus on teacher training

In 1994, Reinventing Education grants were awarded to 10 U.S. sites to tackle school reform, including Florida’s Broward County; Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago; Cincinnati; Philadelphia; San Francisco; San Jose, Calif.; and sites in Vermont and West Virginia. In 1997, a second round of grants was awarded to 12 additional U.S. locations to build on the technology solutions developed through the original sites. Phase two sites included Atlanta; Boston; Detroit; Durham, N.C.; Houston; Memphis, Tenn.; New York City; Rochester, Minn.; and sites in Maryland and South Carolina. IBM also provided international Reinventing Education grants in Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United Kingdom.

IBM’s newly announced $25 million funding will fuel phase three of Reinventing Education, which will focus on improving teacher quality through investments in professional development, including:

  • Making new technology applications that improve school management, teacher development, and student learning easier for school districts to use;
  • Creating new project partnerships with school districts and universities to help prepare teachers to develop more effective programs of study and meet local standards and district challenges; and
  • Developing a new “free of charge” web-based Change Management tool kit that will provide support for school leaders across the U.S. as they implement the changes required for successful standards-based reform.

“The Reinventing Education program will work side by side with schools of education and school districts to transform how teachers are trained and prepare them to help their students in the most effective way,” said Robin Willner, director of corporate community relations for IBM. “These new grants will benefit entire school districts by building new online networks for teachers and faculty of all levels–from experienced to those in training.”

A new model

A by-product of IBM’s Reinventing Education program is the creation of sustained, long-term relationships with school districts and states that flourish and scale far beyond the scope of the original grant. At the onset of a grant, IBM researchers and consultants work with school districts to develop new technologies that address critical issues in school change, such as student assessment practices, continuous teacher improvement models, and teacher instructional planning. Partnerships with school districts and states have produced tools designed to help young students become proficient readers, enrich and deliver rigorous science content across core academic areas, assess and monitor student learning to inform instruction, and help improve communication within and between schools and the communities they serve.

IBM expects to begin accepting applications for the new phase of Reinventing Education early this fall.


IBM’s Reinventing Education