The Smartest Tuition Solution: Outsourcing to Melamed Academy’s Online Courses
Look around, it’s a crisis; most of us Torah-observant families are collapsing into serious debt to pay our kids’ tuition. Yet, simultaneously you’ll see the yeshiva administrators groaning under the strain of their schools’ budgets. What’s to be done? Either we can continue trading blame, or we can start finding a real sustainable solution. Luckily, there’s finally an escape from this community sinkhole. It’s called Melamed Academy, and it’s actually a very simple idea.
Currently, 70% of a yeshiva day school’s operating budget goes to salaries. And that’s when the funds can actually be found to pay them. Yet, with minimal modification, we can be shaving thousands of dollars from each student’s tuition! Let’s start using computer-based courses in our schools to save on salaries for secular subjects. And, to maintain a high chinuch standard, these courses will be checked for suitability and delivered on Melamed’s 100% kosher computers.
It’s not so radical; other industries have already benefited by cutting costs with outsourcing and technological innovation. Now it’s education’s turn. Online courses are being offered to public students in every US state – in the form of virtual public schools or as supplementary courses integrated into the district’s school system. In some states, it’s even mandatory to participate in an online course in order to receive a high school diploma. It started as a trickle; it’s currently a crusade. Why not include our children in this trend, too?
You may be hesitant; you’re imagining robots in the front of the classroom. We don’t mean that. Online course combine multimedia with pre-recorded video instruction, resulting in engaging lessons that stimulate kids’ natural curiosity. They keep students networking with online discussion forums where their essays are posted for classmates’ comments. Kids practice math with interactive programs that grade assignments instantly, and provide hints and reviews to ensure mastery. Online teachers deliver lessons webinar-style, and communicate with students via email, phone, or chat. In the younger grades, children also use paper workbooks; while high-schoolers are saved from schlepping around heavy tomes – everything’s accessible from their lightweight laptop.
And certainly, students still need live qualified teachers – but our current system isn’t really maximizing their talents. We have charismatic teachers with Masters’ degrees spending hours grading papers that any computer could score in seconds. And, every year, more teachers need voice surgery due to constant straining to control classrooms of lively kinderlach. The daily grind is severe enough to discourage many of our finest and bravest from ever entering the field.
Meanwhile, chinuch experts say we’re overlooking the greatest gift that our children want from their teachers – some private attention. Instead of always focusing on the group, let’s notice our individual students who could blossom from a bit of praise and recognition. Practically, the only way that can happen is if we free up the classroom teacher from the role of providing constant instruction and discipline to the group. Then we can return to the good old days when teachers developed personal connections with their students.
Actualizing the advantages of computer-based learning will save us precious dollars in every community, while adding quality to students’ educational experience. Established schools can combine parallel classes because teachers can now supervise larger groups. Classes with differentiated levels for math and reading can be accommodated in one classroom; each group working side-by-side on different programs. In out-of-town communities, it means that a girls’ high school can open its doors without risking high overhead costs or sacrificing on quality. If the girls are using online courses, they are assured excellent education, regardless of their emerging school’s student body.
Yeshiva high schools benefit the most from Melamed Academy’s online courses. Roshei Yeshiva find directing the secular studies department to be a logistical feat; it’s a tough task to find appropriate teachers who can maintain discipline, be qualified subject- matter experts – yet also be amenable to yeshiva salaries and schedule! Online courses solve that entire issue. Bochurim enjoy the self-direction provided by a computer; they feel dared to race ahead of their peers – resulting in an education on a completely new plane. The yeshiva is also unrestricted with hiring concerns; even kollel avreichim can supervise this “study hall”, since the online courses include licensed teachers.
Homeschooling, Tutoring, and GED Prep
Statistically, when teachers “teach to the middle of the class”, half the kids are left struggling to stay afloat, while the other half are bored stiff. Also, lots of kids don’t fit the standard mold; some have learning disabilities or behavior challenges that must be serviced outside of the classroom framework. Melamed Academy’s online courses are versatile and can fill every unique educational niche, whether gifted or remedial – conveniently and affordably!
Resource room teachers can accommodate more students when each child is working on a customized computer-based program. Melamed’s courses have already reduced the need for teacher assistants in yeshiva day schools – while delivering fantastic results!
Homeschooling is growing in popularity, partly due to the astronomical tuition costs in many frum locales. Or, sometimes a family may find itself in a community without a suitable Torah day school for a certain child. Melamed Academy’s online courses empower homeschooling parents to educate their children at home, without the burden of teaching every subject themselves. The parents are free to enjoy their children’s company; Melamed’s online teachers tailor educational programs to meet each child’s needs and track their progress.
Sometimes, homeschooling is not even a choice. Every year, many students fall through the cracks and are left without a community day school to attend, or return home for one reason or another. Instead of sitting idle, Melamed courses are an excellent way for a home-bound student to stay in the educational groove. Melamed Academy’s high school credits are accepted by top-tier yeshivos and girls’ high schools across the US; testifying to their quality standards.
Actually, many mesivta-age students are not even studying secular high school subjects in yeshiva; planning instead to obtain a high school diploma or GED equivalency at some later point in time. Melamed’s High School fast-track program services these bochurim of all ages with a time-efficient curriculum that’s flexible and effective.
From the Trenches: Why Study Online?
You can’t argue with success. In 2014, 6.68 million US high school students studied with online courses, scoring higher than their counterparts sitting in a one-room-fits-all school classroom. It makes sense. We know that kids come in all types and learning styles, so the idea of forcing them to keep to the same pace is stifling, not to mention – expensive. We also know that young people gravitate to technology, so why not harness that enthusiasm for an educational purpose?
And the advantages are many. Computer-based courses enable the classroom teacher to oversee the education of multiple skill levels within a single classroom. Now a struggling kid is saved from being stigmatized and separated from friends during skill-tracked classes. Each student progresses at his own pace, listening to video lectures and checking for understanding with interactive reviews. Everyone is actively learning, nobody’s bored and nobody’s left puzzled.
There’s already a name for computer-based learning. It’s called the “flipped-classroom” style. Nowadays, students don’t sit as passive listeners during class. They listen to pre-recorded video lectures at home and read their assigned material. During class, they collaborate with peers on projects –learning how to work as a team. That’s considered better preparation for today’s work world, where the boss isn’t overly impressed with employees who just spend their time sitting quietly as spectators. Instead, he’s seeking employees who actively produce benefit for the company and use their creativity to solve problems.
There’s also the advantage of real-time updates about students’ understanding. In a traditional classroom, how can a teacher help students who fail a test, when the class is already progressing on to the next chapter? Now, with computer-based learning, teachers are empowered with live data about their students, during the learning process. With a few clicks, the teacher can assign supplementary lessons to struggling students or take them aside for individual attention. When test day comes, everyone is fully prepared.
Why would we want to deny our children all these benefits?
In the Principal’s Eyes: Real Life Advantages
Check it out when you walk down the school corridors. You sense the serious learning environment; all the students are in their seats, plugged into their lessons. “All our discipline problems disappeared once we put headphones on our boys,” chuckled a cheder principal. “It’s worthwhile even just to save the hassles of substitute teachers; it’s impossible to find anyone who can step in and control a class.”
Classroom time is also utilized more efficiently when students feel more accountable. “You can’t complain to a computer, so our girls buckle down and get more done. We never finished the science book until we started studying with Melamed Academy,” reported the principal of a girls’ middle school.
“For us, it was a leap in quality. We can’t afford to stock a chemistry lab and we don’t have space for biology experiments,” admitted a yeshiva menahel. With Melamed Academy, yeshivos can offer virtual science labs with computer-simulated gravity measurements, scales, and microscopes – on every student’s laptop. And in those colorful and multimedia-enhanced labs, every single student is performing the scientific process and charting the results, without the time-consuming distractions entailed by physically relocating to the science lab tables.
Why Melamed Academy?
Melamed Academy provides a packaged solution that’s simple for schools to implement. By customizing programs from leading publishers for the Torah community, we’ve eliminated the need for each school to reinvent the wheel. All our programs have been tested by real live kids, so we know they get results – and also get students to love school. We’ve maximized the cost-saving benefits of consortium purchasing, creating a Torah-day school “district” with participating publishers, so that even small day schools can have their students benefit from low pricing.
Switching to Melamed’s online courses is an immediate cost-saver, even when calculating the costs of computers. Melamed Academy offers value-priced Kosher Chromebooks that include firewalled settings, school-limited webmail, choice of 100 free educational apps, plus word processing and design software for every student. These lightweight laptops boot in seconds, and fit easily on a classroom desk. No need for more computer rooms, no reason to hire an IT expert to get the kosher network settings that your school needs.
Melamed Academy shares your values, saves you money, and delivers award-winning courseware. No other online school offers all these advantages!
Coming Now – to Classrooms near You!
With thanks to our donors, Melamed Academy is offering a limited number of subsidized group enrollments, on a first-come first-served basis.
Yeshivos and Bais Yaakovs, Day Schools and High Schools: Call now to reserve seats for your students, at 732-228-8800!
Parents, does your child’s yeshiva day school offer Melamed Academy courses yet? Would you like to join your neighbors who are saving thousands of tuition dollars?
Check out our course offerings today at https://melamedacademy.com
High School Diploma
Melamed Academy High School is a registered nonpublic school in the State of New Jersey, and grants High School Diplomas according to the state’s graduation requirements. The State of New Jersey has adopted the Common Core standards for many subjects, and additionally has state Core Curriculum Content Standards for certain subject areas.
The minimum credit requirement was raised for students entering high school in 2009 to 120 total credits, from a previous minimum requirement of 110 credits. The calculation for credits is as follows: A full year course amounts to 5 credits; a single semester course counts for 2.5 credits. Regarding Health, Safety, and Physical Education, students must meet a minimum of 150 minutes per week in qualifying activities for every year of high school enrollment.
Besides the additional credit requirements, students must now fulfill more advanced specifications for Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies courses. Also, Technological Literacy and 21st Century Skills are required, in order to properly prepare the students for the current work opportunities.
In Math, students must study Algebra I, Geometry, and a third math course that builds on the concepts and skills of algebra and geometry and prepares students for college and 21st century careers. In addition, there is a required 2.5 credits in Financial, Economic, Business, and Entreneurial Literacy. Melamed Academy offers students numerous options to fulfill their third Math course requirement. The standard course path is Algebra II; however, students can take Consumer Math in conjunction with the Accounting & ERP elective, or opt for the intensive Algebra with Financial Applications. An Honors level AP Prep Calculus AB is offered to qualifying 11th and 12th grade students.
In Science, students must study laboratory biology/life science or the content equivalent, an additional laboratory/inquiry based science course such as chemistry, environmental science, or physics, and a third laboratory/inquiry based science course. At Melamed Academy, students fulfill the laboratory requirements through a combination of virtual labs and lab packs. In addition to the required laboratory based sciences, students can study Psychology and other science courses to meet their elective requirements.
In Social Studies, World History is required, plus US History, history of New Jersey, Holocaust studies, studies of minorities as in N.J.S.A. 18A:35-1 and 2. Civics, economics, geography, and global content must be integrated into the course studies.
The State of New Jersey requires students to take 5 credits in World Languages, or demonstrate their proficiency. At Melamed Academy, students may fulfill their World Language requirement with a Hebrew test or project. However, students are encouraged to select a World Language from the wide variety of Language courses. In today’s global economy, familiarity with world languages is a practical skill that will serve students well upon entering the workforce.
Health and Physical Education
At Melamed Academy, Health and Physical Education requirements are met with a schoolwide program in which students study weekly Health themes, researching and discussing them together in online discussions. Physical education is supervised by exercise trainers who design aerobic exercise and toning routines to match every student’s personal goals.
Visual and Performing Arts
Students can fulfill their Arts five-credit minimum requirements via Digital Arts, Photography, Drawing & Pastels, Painting, Sketching, Cartooning, and Art History & Appreciation. Digital Arts includes practice in a variety of leading software and genres that have many practical career applications. Drawing and Painting courses are delivered online, while the student creates his art on paper and submits scanned versions to his teacher. Music students and members of performing arts groups can transfer qualifying credits to Melamed Academy in fulfillment of this credit requirement.
Language Arts Literacy
Coursework in English 9-12 is aligned with the Common Core standards and prepares students for SAT and nationally administered tests. Concentrations in American Literature and British Literature are offered as alternatives to the standard English courses in Grades 11 and 12. All literature is carefully selected to meet Torah standards, in consistence with the practices in Torah day schools.
Information literacy and research skills are provided under the guidance of Melamed Academy’s online librarians. Melamed Academy students receive access to vast databases and online reading rooms that provide an optimal research environment. Guided research sessions with our online librarian enable students to acquire valuable academic skills, online search skills, and expert research and academic integrity protocol.
Career Technical Education
Melamed Academy offers many career electives that directly prepare students for the workforce. Today’s workplace demands a multitude of skills from its employees, extending beyond the actual concentration of study necessary for their profession. Technological literacy, bookkeeping skills, and typing proficiency are required in most work environments. Melamed Academy’s Computer Applications courses are designed with the updated skills needed for current work environments.
Business computer systems and websites are present in every company, and most software brands utilize similar concepts. Familiarity with these programs will give our students a definite advantage when seeking employment. Melamed Academy’s Accounting & ERP course, and Web Programming and Design series are valuable tickets to lucrative professions.
Additionally, Melamed Academy Career courses include career selection and planning, resume writing, and job search basics with the guidance of a career coach. Students can also benefit from Personal Finance, Life Advantage Series, Communication, and Workplace Readiness series that walk through the milestones of adult life.
AP Prep Courses
The College Board’s AP exams are accepted as college credits in most institutions of higher education. While online courses cannot be officially certified, Melamed Academy offers many honors level courses that prepare students for the AP exams. These exams are delivered at testing centers during the month of May, and advance registration is required. Students taking the AP courses at Melamed Academy receive guidance, scheduling, and review assistance to ensure their success in the AP exams.
For more information about the New Jersey State Minimum Requirements by Content Area, see here.
A passing score on the GED is accepted worldwide as proof of a student’s readiness for higher education or for the workforce. 2014 saw the update of the GED High School Equivalency Exams, in both content and delivery.
What do these changes mean for the Torah community?
In the past, many yeshiva students concentrated exclusively on their Gemara studies during their high school years, and relied on the GED High School Equivalency Exam to provide them with their ticket to higher education, if they would ever wish to avail themselves of that option. Indeed, thousands of yeshiva students have successfully passed the GED exam after intensive self-study or after culmination of an educational program designed for GED preparation.
However, the new GED test presents new challenges. The new testing format is computer-based and demands familiarity with the question types typical of online courses. A student lacking computer savvy will not succeed on his test day, regardless of his amount of knowledge. Therefore, preparation for the GED test now must include actual computer-based study.
Yet, in truth, there were already many hopeful GED test-takers who did not succeed in passing their exams, or did not pass with a sufficiently high score in order to enter the institutions of their choice. They had relied on the popular assumption that the test wouldn’t be overly difficult for a student who had succeeded in advanced Torah study, which is known to demand even more intellectual prowess. And, it’s true that Talmud students have a foundation of analytical skills and a background of diligent study habits.
The difference was that these students weren’t allowing themselves enough time to acquire their secular knowledge in a solid fashion, building block by block. While it may be possible to memorize historical facts, algebra and writing skills don’t lend themselves to being mastered overnight. Plus, the lapse of continuity in the student’s secular education considerably lengthened the learning process, as many subjects were already a “foreign language”. Also, many students belatedly discovered that their elementary school secular education hadn’t ever provided them with a basic foundation of reading comprehension and math computation. Add to that mixture, financial and family pressures looming in the background of a married man looking for a job – and it’s a recipe for overload.
The Best Solution
Fortunately, there is another way in which these prerequisite subjects can be painlessly mastered. In fact, the educational experience will be actually enjoyable and can comfortably fit in to the normal study breaks of a typical teenage Torah scholar’s schedule.
Melamed Academy offers a customizable study track for students of all ages wishing to prepare for the GED exams. This comprehensive course contains both the designated course material, plus familiarity with the question formats of the new computer-based exams.
These courses can be studied at a student’s convenience, at home or in the Melamed Academy learning center. Kosher computers provide students with an internet connection that is limited to the specific educational apps utilized in the courses. Test packs provide simulated exam practice to ensure that students are well prepared for their test day, and are set up for success.
Melamed Academy’s GED-Aligned Comprehensive Study course is suitable for students seeking to fill knowledge and skill gaps in preparation for the GED® High-School equivalency exam. This course prescribes a customized learning prescription for every student, based on a series of pretests that check proficiency and knowledge. This course is designed to service students of all backgrounds – ranging from minimal High School experience through more advanced learners.
Teacher support and guidance is provided in all subjects, according to students’ individual pace.
GED® is a registered trademark of the American Council on Education (ACE) and administered exclusively by GED Testing Service LLC under license. This material [or content] is not endorsed or approved by ACE or GED Testing Service.
MyMelamed Student Success program enables students to succeed in reaching their educational goals. Our combination of online materials and live teacher support provides a supportive and enjoyable framework for students of all ages.
Our newest program is designed for adult learners, ages 16 and up, who are not enrolled in a high school with secular studies. As of 2013, the State of New Jersey recognizes 30 college credits in core subjects as an acceptable demonstration of knowledge entitling the student to a state-issued high school diploma.
Included in the 30 general education credits must be a minimum of three credits in each:
- English language arts
- Social studies
Plus six total credits in any of the following:
- Visual and performing arts
- Comprehensive health and physical education
- World language
- Technology and 21st century life and careers.
MyMelamed Student Success program now includes a track to support adult learners wishing to gain proficiency in these subjects as preparation to successfully pass college-level courses in those subjects. MyMelamed also provides guidance to students seeking to receive Yeshiva credits for qualifying studies towards the 30-credit fulfillment.
This alternative route to a High School diploma is suitable for adult students who wish to simultaneously earn college credit, thereby shortening the process towards a college degree.
See http://www.state.nj.us/education/students/adulted/30ccapp.pdf for more details.