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News and Speeches

Chancellor Walcott Announces Winners of the Gap App Challenge


Winners Are Awarded Over $100,000 in Cash and Prizes.  All Entries Have the Opportunity to be Considered for Pilots in iZone Schools

Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott today announced the winners of the Gap App Challenge, a software development competition that was launched earlier this year. The competition invited developers to submit applications, games or other programs that would address the achievement gap and help middle school students excel in math. The winning apps for the challenge are KnowRe, Mathalicious, Hapara, and LiveSchool. The Chancellor congratulated the winners at the Tweed Courthouse and was joined by Anthony Meyer from the Anthony Meyer Family Foundation, which contributed the cash prize.

The New York City Department of Education is the first school district in the country to hold this type of competition, and the Gap App Challenge is the first in a series of challenges, hackathons, and prototyping workshops that will be hosted by the DOE’s Innovation Zone (iZone), a community of New York City schools committed to personalizing learning to meet the needs, motivations and strengths of individual students. The challenge is a part of the iZone’s Innovate NYC Schools initiative that signifies a new approach to innovation in education. The initiative focuses on creating a more open and collaborative environment for educators, developers and entrepreneurs that brings them together to share new approaches to teaching and learning. Educators will gain access to promising new solutions to help personalize student learning, while education-tech companies will benefit from working with educators on authentic, real-world problems.

“This challenge exemplifies the goal of the Department of Education, to provide our students with the tools and knowledge needed to help them succeed on their path to college and careers,” said Chancellor Walcott. “Through the innovative and collaborative efforts between our teachers and the ed-tech community, we are paving the way for our students’ academic success.”

“The Gap App challenge is just one of the many ways the Department of Education is working to bring better instructional technology into the classroom,” said Deputy Chancellor David Weiner, “With this challenge, we are creating a more efficient system that will provide New York City public schools students with even more personalized learning opportunities.”

“Mayor Bloomberg's Digital Roadmap highlights STEM education as an important element in the plan to make New York the world's leading digital city. The Gap App Challenge is a powerful illustration of how technologists can work with the education community to shape the future of learning,” said Chief Digital Officer Rachel Haot. “Congratulations to the Gap App Challenge winners and thank you for helping to prepare New York City's youth for academic and professional success in the 21st Century economy.”

“My family and I are very committed to educational causes, and believe that innovative approaches involving new technologies can make a meaningful difference in improving educational outcomes for children,” said Anthony Meyer. “Funding contests and challenges with and for the Innovation Zone of the New York City Department of Education is a powerful way to do good things for the city in which we live, and to achieve significant and leverageable system-wide results.  We congratulate not only the winners of this contest, but also the Department of Education for its commitment to the successful completion of this initial effort.”

A total of 200 apps were submitted from cities across the country and reviewed by three panels of judges, which included public school principals and teachers, Common Core Fellows, Department of Education officials and experts in the field of technology, media, and design. Of these submissions, KnowRe won first place for Best Instructional App and Hapara won first place for Best Administrative and Engagement App. Mathalicious and Live School both placed second, respectively. Five honorable mentions were among the winners: Woot Math, Algebra Touch, Chalkable, Fraction Planet, and Fluid Math. Winners will receive over $100,000 in prizes from the Anthony Meyer Family Foundation and Amazon Web Services and have the chance to be considered for school-based pilots that will begin next fall in iZone public schools.

Over the coming months, iZone schools will be given an opportunity to select a developer to partner with in the fall. iZone schools will then be matched with a developer who will work collaboratively with the school to refine their product and provide teachers with implementation support.  Developers and teachers will work side by side and provide each other with input to improve the product and its use in the classroom.

KnowRe is an online adaptive learning service for mathematics. KnowRe assesses an individual’s strengths and weaknesses, personalizes a curriculum for each student’s focus areas and engages students through game-like features, attractive graphics and social learning.

Hapara optimizes Google Apps for schools by structuring Google Apps around classes and students. With Hapara’s tools, Google Apps becomes both easier to use and more effective. Teachers get the visibility they need to improve student outcomes in the moment, students get the full benefits of a safe, collaborative, digital learning environment, and schools save money.

Mathalicious creates lessons for educators that help teach the Common Core Standards through real-world topics and challenge students to think critically about the world. Too many students think of math as a bunch of random steps to memorize and regurgitate, and ask, “When will I ever use this?” Mathalicious answers this, and is helping teachers across the country redefine what it means to teach math.

LiveSchool helps teachers, administrators, and parents communicate and collaborate in real-time to improve school culture. Teachers and administrators use laptops and tablets to record and share information with each other throughout the day. LiveSchool’s mission is to help schools work together to improve culture and create great environments for students to learn.