Florida A&M Development Research School Leads New Alliance with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and University of Phoenix

Unique Research Project Intended to Improve Teaching and Student Performance through Blending Learning


October 7, 2015 – TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Students at the Florida A&M University (FAMU) Developmental Research School (DRS) learned today of a new research project designed to pioneer online learning methods and technologies. The research project is the first effort to result from an alliance between the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) and University of Phoenix (UOPX) to bring online learning and teaching methods to Historically Black College and Universities (HBCUs).

“According to a report on college readiness issued by the ACT, only five percent of African-American high school graduates meet all benchmarks in four subjects. As a result of these and other such dismal statistics, it is clear that ensuring middle and high school students are prepared for college requires a fundamental change in how schools are organized and how, when, and where teaching are learning are accomplished,” said FAMU President Elmira Mangum, Ph.D. “Being better prepared academically for college improves a student’s chances of completing a college degree or earning a meaningful income. Also, college readiness reduces gaps in persistence and degree completion among racial/ethnic and family income groups.”

“We simply must do more to improve learning for underrepresented students. By introducing blended learning, we aim to ensure that our K-12 students will reap the benefits from instruction both in the physical and online classroom environments,” said Timothy Moore, Ph.D., FAMU Vice President for Research. “Our K-12 research environment at DRS will lay the foundation of what we hope becomes a blended learning ecosystem for all students who are looking to progress toward on-time completion.”

The research project will include innovative strategies in assessing student learning. The DRS, TMCF, and UOPX are collaborating on research design, data collection and enhanced online instruction methods for teachers at the DRS.

The research design will begin with K-12 students where blended learning will help students prepare for college-level coursework. Faculty project leaders at FAMU DRS will work with UOPX experts to design courses that prepare students for blended instruction—instruction that combines both classroom and online content. Students at FAMU DRS will also be offered access to the UOPX comprehensive online learning platform with online math tutoring, workshops, library and other resources. Teachers at FAMU DRS will benefit from working with UOPX instructional experts to improve assessment and student progress.

The DRS has produced African American professionals and standout academics since its inception in 1887 as the Lucey Moten Teacher Training School for Florida A&M University. In the recent decade it has struggled to maintain enrollment and improve student performance. The much improved test scores of recent years do not go far enough for Superintendent Patricia C. Hodge, Ph.D., who welcomed the research project as an opportunity to “make sure students have a smooth path to college, and are better prepared to succeed and graduate.”

“Retaining students and improving our graduation rate is critically important to our performance matrix and mission as a Land Grant University. Dr. Moore and this team are on the right track,” said FAMU President Elmira Mangum, Ph.D.

“We believe in the power of a high-touch, high-tech blended approach to learning with highly qualified practitioner faculty engaging students and assessing student progress toward learning goals,” said Timothy P. Slottow, President of University of Phoenix.

“Giving students the vital tools needed at the high school level for a higher education will ensure their readiness for college and give them opportunities for a bright future,” said TMCF President & CEO Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. “We look forward to leading the way in discovering innovative solutions that will help other HBCUs gain access to cutting edge technology solutions and online classes aimed to increase student retention and graduation rates.”

“Part of being college-ready means being ready to learn online. At University of Phoenix, we are eager to join with this historic community surrounding FAMU’s Developmental Research School and bring our expertise in online distance learning to the benefit of students and educators,” said Byron Jones, Chief Financial Officer of University of Phoenix. “Our hope is that more students at the DRS will be ready for college-level coursework at nearby FAMU upon completion of high school. We are grateful for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and its leadership in providing more accessible online courses, tools, texts and other resources to larger HBCU communities, and we expect a dynamic laboratory environment thanks to the support of Dr. Timothy Moore.”

In November 2014, University of Phoenix agreed to offer its online platform to students attending HBCUs across America through an alliance with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. This opportunity has been extended to both publicly-supported and private HBCUs. FAMU is the first publicly-supported HBCU in the country to take advantage of the opportunity and to work with University of Phoenix to bring online course options to its DRS students.

About Florida A&M University Division of Research
Florida A&M University is committed to inspirational teaching and exemplary research through creative partnerships at the local, state, national and global levels. The Division of Research seeks to support the economic development agenda of the state and region; offer superior support services to faculty, staff and students to pursue their research endeavors; encourage collaboration and interdisciplinary research activities on campus and externally; promote excellence within the academic programs and support areas; establish national and international partnerships in research; effectively protect, manage and market intellectual property; and ensure the highest level of fiscal responsibility in grants management.

About FAMU DRS
Founded in 1887, the DRS (formerly known as Lucy Moten), was established as a Teacher Training School for Florida A&M University. Then in 1932, the Lucy Moten Elementary at Florida A&M University was established as an outgrowth of the Model School. The school was created specifically for students studying at the grammar school or Colored Normal School. Over the years, the name of the school has changed several times to include Demonstration School, Laboratory School, and FAMU High School. The “laboratory school” nomenclature was functional until the Florida Legislature enacted the Sidney Martin Developmental Research School Act of 1991, which designated the K-12 laboratory School as a Developmental Research School. Further, the legislation mandated that FAMU DRS operate as a designated public school district, and stipulated that “the mission shall be the provision of a vehicle for the conduct of research, demonstration, and evaluation regarding management, teaching, and learning. Further, FAMU DRS shall emphasize mathematics, science, technology, and foreign languages.”

About the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF)
TMCF is named for the U.S. Supreme Court’s first African-American Justice. Established in 1987, TMCF supports and represents nearly 300,000 students attending its 47 member-schools that include publicly-supported Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), medical schools and law schools. Through its scholarships and programs, TMCF plays a key role in preparing the leaders of tomorrow. For more information about TMCF and its programs, visit www.tmcf.org. Media Contact: Tangie Newborn, tangie.newborn@tmcf.org or 202-888-0039.

About University of Phoenix
University of Phoenix is constantly innovating to help working adults move efficiently from education to careers in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant and engaging courses, and interactive learning can help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. As a subsidiary of Apollo Education Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: APOL), University of Phoenix serves a diverse student population, offering associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs from campuses and learning centers across the U.S. as well as online throughout the world. For more information, visit www.phoenix.edu. Media contact: Ryan Rauzon, ryan.rauzon@phoenix.edu or 602-363-1022.