Academic Center For Excellence Project –  Chairman – Joan Mele-McCarthy, D.A.

Learning disabilities/differences affect upwards of 10% of school age children. The consequences of not remediating these disabilities can be quite severe, ranging from underemployment, psychological difficulties, to even imprisonment. There are hundreds of specialized schools dedicated to teaching children with learning disabilities and differences, and dozens of laboratories studying the biological, psychological, and educational factors underlying these disorders. While each school and laboratory has attained a measure of success, each of them essentially operates on an island with no formal mechanisms for sharing their expertise. Because of recent advances in computational science and knowledge management, TDF’s Academic Center for Excellence is in a unique position to bridge this gap.

We will draw on advances in cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to build a HIPPA- and FERPA-compliant knowledge management system that will collect data to answer questions about effective practices. Educators will be able to learn from real school settings which methods of intervention are proven to work, for which children, and under what circumstances. Once in place, this massive shared database will also enable academic researchers an unprecedented resource for mining data and recruiting research subjects. This database will allow sharing of information within the scientific community, among Independent schools for students with disabilities, and among public schools serving all students, thereby paving the way for more effective remediation of learning disabilities. With adequate funding, we are confident that we can complete the development, beta-testing, and initial implementation in 3 years. Help support this effort by making a donation to the Foundation.