This program seeks to raise ACT scores and student engagement to prepare youth for a dynamic global economy.
With so much emphasis on statistical data surrounding academic achievement, one thing often gets overlooked – numbers can be persuaded to change. This ideology drives Dr. Clarence Nixon Jr., founder and CEO of Garden City-based t.Lab Global Accelerated Learning Centers, an organization targeting K-12 students who want to succeed in college and life.
Launched in 2007, t.Lab “focuses on assisting students (and parents) with realizing extraordinary academic achievements by leveraging a hybrid curriculum including humanities, leadership, liberal arts and STEM disciplines,” its website notes. To do so, it uses a series of learning strategies, educational tools and academic preparatory work. For example: The goal for 6th grade t.Lab students is a minimum composite ACT score of 21.25. Whereas, the goal for 12th grade t.Lab students is a minimum composite ACT score of 33.00 – because, according to Nixon, 1 percent of all students score between 33 and 36 on the ACT. As of this writing, the median composite ACT score for t.Lab students is 28.5. They also provide SAT support.
“We project that the median composite ACT score for t.Lab students will reach a minimum of 33 by 2019-2020,” Nixon says.
Nixon, a native Detroiter, graduated from McKenzie High School and went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in business from Upper Iowa University, a master’s degree in logistics at Central Michigan University and an interdisciplinary Ph.D. from Wayne State University. Still, he’d be the first to admit that as a high school student and early in his college career, he wasn’t very “diligent” in his studies. Nixon later landed a job at General Motors, working his way up from the mail room to the data center to learning how to write Cobol programs (3D modeling).
Nixon’s commitment to technology is evident in his choice of running t.Lab in a predominantly Mac computer-based environment. “We run a high-end technology laboratory,” Nixon says. “The parents know you’re serious about education – you’re serious about (the students). Without question. It’s all about being able to communicate in an indirect way that we’re here for you.” It’s an investment not only in technology, but also in the children in the program. Nixon’s concern with lower standardized test scores coming out of Detroit was the initial impetus behind t.Lab’s rigorous program – so rigorous, in fact, that parents are not simply spectators. They’re involved, too. Because ultimately, education starts at home.
“The parenting programming is mandatory,” Nixon says. “We call it Parent University, and so parents come to class four Saturdays out of every month – they’re going through a litany of things.” In 11 years of operation, the program has managed to positively impact numerous lives, and many t.Lab alumni have returned to help current students make the grade. That, for Nixon, is the biggest testament to the program’s success. “I think (it’s) a great system when it can duplicate itself, when alumni are actively involved,” Nixon says. “But they come back to help organize and help our students get these things done. Not only do they have a responsibility to themselves, but to others. That, I’d say, I’m most proud of. For them to come back is a joy.”
For more information on t.Lab’s accelerated program, call 888-327-3387 or visit tlab-global.com.