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Rocking the ACT in the D makes its debut (Part I of 3)

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Detroit-area students have a new tool this year to seamlessly launch their futures big time. They have a chance to rock the ACT in a huge way.

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It officially began with a new agreement inked Tuesday between two forces determined to help today’s mandatory standardized test takers and accelerate their path to a successful college career. If local students follow the already-proven pattern, the results are going to mean better continuing education among high-schoolers and lead to prosperous careers and more financially secure lives.

And, the beauty, says its inventor, is, for once, not just the rich will benefit as it debuts in Detroit. Students work online together, and with tutors, to master key concepts, solve practice problems, and develop test-taking strategies.

“We are democratizing opportunity,” said education expert Farbood Nivi, the founder behind the entrepreneurial academic achievement enterprise, Grockit, of San Francisco.

The other half of the link for Detroit students is the Detroit-based, non-profit accelerated learning program, Technology Laboratory and Professional Development Center (TLAB).

Founded in 2007 by the former Northville, Michigan resident and University of Michigan psychology major, Grockit extends learning beyond the traditional classroom by what Nivi calls “social learning engagement.” Perfected during his U of M experience, the technique steers back toward human involvement in the learning and teaching process.

“At first, education began with having a teacher spur the learning process,” said Nivi, 34. “That shifted to having books carry the burden, and more recently, it’s meant incorporating technology, like computers, to do it. By contrast, our method is letting the students themselves lead by connecting with one another. In fact, if you looked into one of my original classrooms as I taught at U of M, you would’ve had a tough time determining who the teachers were and who were the students.”

Following his 2000 graduation as a psychology major, Nivi earned the Princeton Review’s Teacher of the Year in 2001. But, his true dedication to teaching began much earlier, he says.

“I started teaching my peers when I was 18 and personally taught thousands in Michigan alone,” he said. “I based my approach on self-help knowledge, and today, more than 200 countries are keyed into this method, including more than 1 million people who have used it to date.”

In fact, Grockit's Vice President of Marketing Aaron Burcell, also of San Francisco, says it was a Grockit student who first alerted TLAB of the success he encountered with the program. People were remarkably raising their ACT scores and coming closer to the elusive top score of 36 -- with just a few months’ study. And they did it all through Grockit’s online chat approach.

Don’t miss Parts 2 and 3 of this series, featuring real hope and help for D kids.

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