At E.L.L.I.S., a school for over-age, under-credited recent immigrants who are English language learners, iZone provided the materials for students to take online Advanced Placement courses in English and U.S. History. Principal Norma Vega said 12 of her students, who just completed their third year in the United States, are involved, though they probably won’t take the AP test.
“They’re struggling through it but I’m really proud of them. It’s a lot of work,” Ms. Vega said, adding that she is fully in favor of iZone and would like to see it expand.
In January, the Center on Reinventing Public Education published a report on iZone. It estimated that in four years iZone will cost between $30 and $50 million. It noted that iZone is extremely ambitious and focuses on high performing schools without helping underachieving ones.
Ms. Gillett said that, so far, she only has anecdotal evidence to support iZone but that the DOE will have the results of the program’s success by the end of the year.
Mr. Liu is also investigating the DOE’s Achievement Reporting and Innovation System, an $80 million data collection system used to track students’ academic records, according to a press release.
The release said Wireless Generation, an IBM subcontractor, is credited with developing ARIS.
The company’s relationship to the DOE has been raising eyebrows since November, when reports surfaced that just weeks after News Corps hired Mr. Klein, it acquired 90 percent of Wireless Generation.