Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation Gives UM $3.5M to Expand EdReady

In 2014 the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation helped launch EdReady Montana, an innovative statewide math readiness program, with a $2.4 million gift. Less than three years later, EdReady Montana has exceeded all expectations and inspired another generous gift of $3.5 million from the foundation to continue its critical work with Montana students. 

“Essentially, EdReady is a personalized learning tool,” said Robert Currie, executive director of the Montana Digital Academy at UM (MTDA), which oversees EdReady. “It provides students, especially those struggling in math, with an assessment of their skill set based on a desired goal. The tool then offers a personalized learning path designed around that student’s learning gaps, enabling them to reach their goal.”

The EdReady program was primarily designed by the National Repository of Online Courses, with the financial backing of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to help college-bound students avoid remedial coursework in college. MTDA made the EdReady math program available to teachers and administrators throughout Montana’s pre-K and K-12 system, making Montana students the first in the nation to use this innovative tool on a statewide basis.

During the first three years of its implementation, EdReady Montana has enrolled more than 51,000 students and adult learners. MTDA has implemented EdReady Montana in more than 290 schools statewide, including higher education, secondary and adult learning centers. Currently, 45 percent of middle schools and over 50 percent of Montana high schools, two-year colleges, four-year universities, tribal colleges and adult education centers use EdReady Montana.

“The first three studies tracking more than a thousand students who completed the EdReady program clearly show faster and higher math achievement gains than any other tutoring tool,” said Roberta Evans, dean of the Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences.

Inspired in part by the success of EdReady Montana, 39 states now use the program in individual schools, districts or learning centers statewide, including Colorado, New Mexico, Nebraska, South Carolina and New Jersey.

The EdReady Montana team has conducted implementation sessions at the National NROC Member Conference, as well as training sessions for schools, districts and states in Colorado and Tennessee.

The overwhelming success of the original EdReady Math Remediation Program inspired a renewed dialogue about how to deepen the program’s use in the pre-K, K-12 and higher education systems. Plans include expanding EdReady to cover subjects like English, creating an EdReady research and training center on the UM campus, and adapting the existing curriculum and software to assist employers and employees through a new program called JobReady.

“We are proud to partner with the Montana Digital Academy and the National Repository of Online Courses to expand this highly successful academic readiness program to meet the 21st-century needs of our students and employers,” said Mike Halligan, executive director of the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation. “The five-year, $3.5 million grant provides stable funding to allow Bob Currie and his team to fully implement their vision for the EdReady Montana program.”