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$1 Million Study on Learning Underway in Texas District

A study underway at Waskom Independent School District in Waskom, TX will provide valuable information for both educators and scientists.

The largest part of the study, funded by a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation, looks at cognitive skills training in order to improve student learning ability and will take place at the high school level.

In October, all students in the district took the Gibson Test, an online cognitive skills assessment used to identify weaknesses in student learning. Grant funding from Cognitive First, a non-profit organization that works with under-resourced and at-risk children, helped cover the cost of testing and will also pay for online brain training for some students at the elementary level.

"We are pleased to be donating access to evaluations and online exercise sets being used in this study," said Larry Hargrave, founder of Cognitive First.

At the high school level, researchers from Virginia State University who are overseeing the study will administer brain scans for some district students. Students will spend 15 weeks receiving three different modes of instruction according to random placement in one of three groups. One group will receive standard instruction. A second group will receive online brain training in addition. A third group will receive one-to-one assistance in cognitive skills training from staff at LearningRx.

Students will be randomly chosen to undergo brain scans with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) before the 15 week instruction period and then afterward to measure brain changes.

"This is an amazing opportunity to boost the learning skills and potential of every single student at our school with no cost to parents or the district," said Waskom High School Principal Stuart Musick. "The cognitive testing alone will provide valuable information for our teachers and families regarding each student's strengths and weaknesses, and will give us the insight we need to help strengthen those skills to improve grades and performance."

For more information about Cognitive First, visit cog1st.org. Visit learningrx.com to learn more about LearningRx.

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