This post originally appeared on the Louisiana Technology Park blog.
It all started when Craig Gehring got perfect scores on the ACT and SAT. Parents were soon calling him to tutor their kids on standardized tests, and he’s been involved in test preparation ever since. But he says he noticed early on that there were a lot of students who needed help but whose parents couldn’t afford a tutor. The students who most needed scholarships and good scores were the least likely to get valuable test prep, he says.
This inspired him to develop his own curriculum, and soon he was running his own company, MasteryPrep. “We’re going to focus only on this thing that seems impossible,” Gehring says of the company’s focus on low-income student populations who are underachieving but have the potential to go to college, and need help with their standardized-test performance. “Underachievement is a hard problem to solve, which makes it hard to say no,” he says.
Here’s how MasteryPrep’s unique approach is helping teachers and students in underserved areas and underperforming school districts turn the tables and take on the ACT.
Identifying ‘Pathways’ for Efficient Learning Through Data
The company’s data-based approach to curriculum development helps it assemble a wide variety of learning platforms, all aimed at helping students prepare for the ACT. Gehring describes his company as “pretty geeky,” full of data scientists and tech experts. The team digs deep into tests to identify common themes that come up often to determine the best plan of action for learning.
They’ve gone over almost 70 ACT tests, analyzing thousands of questions and answers. They then take the information gleaned from those tests and map out the best “learning pathways” that identify what teachers should teach so students really do understand the concepts, Gehring says. “The best [paths] are tied to academics and core skills, things that a student has had to learn to then move up,” he says. “That research is the basis of our curriculum.”