COGNITIVE TOYBOX RECEIVES $900,000 ED/IES PHASE II GRANT TO ADVANCE RESEARCH ON EARLY CHILDHOOD ASSESSMENT TOOL
NEW YORK, June 22, 2020 -- Cognitive ToyBox, a New York-based early childhood technology company, has received a follow-on $900,000 Phase II grant from the federal ED/IES SBIR program. Together with their subcontractor WestEd, a non-profit research development agency headquartered in San Francisco, the team will use the two-year grant to fully develop and evaluate their hybrid observation and game-based assessment platform for early childhood educators.
Tammy Kwan, a Doctoral student in Education, and Dr. Brenden Lake, an Assistant Professor of Psychology and Data Science, both at NYU, co-founded the organization in 2015. The company was spun out of a National Science Foundation Innovation Corps for Learning grant, stemming from Kwan’s interest in early childhood development. Today, Cognitive ToyBox is working with some of the largest early childhood education programs in the country, reaching over 150,000 children a year.
Cognitive ToyBox’s game-based approach to assessment is especially timely given the school closures due to Covid-19. “The traditional method for early childhood assessment, in which teachers assess through observations of children in the classroom, does not work in a remote environment. Our game-based assessments provide parents and teachers a new way to collaborate and support children’s development during this challenging time,” said Kwan, who is the Principal Investigator for both the Phase I and Phase II grants.
During Phase I, the Cognitive ToyBox team developed a dashboard that Head Start and Pre-K educators used to review assessment data and track progress of individual children towards school readiness. The subcontractor, WestEd, worked with Early Learning Coordinator at Atlanta Public Schools Dr. Shana Weldon on a pilot study to understand educators’ ability to integrate the Cognitive ToyBox assessment platform into their daily practice and use the data to monitor child progress and identify areas for instructional support.
“We have a substantial need for tools that support teachers in formative assessment and student-centered instructional feedback," said Weldon. "We look forward to a continued relationship with Cognitive ToyBox.”
Weldon will continue to work with Cognitive ToyBox during the Phase II period.
ABOUT COGNITIVE TOYBOX
Cognitive ToyBox is a research-backed technology platform for kindergarten readiness. The platform offers a hybrid observation and game-based approach that makes assessment better, simpler and more actionable for teachers. Program administrators and teachers can then leverage the data to more effectively allocate resources and plan instruction, with the goal of optimizing student learning. Cognitive ToyBox works with Head Start and PreK programs that support hundreds of thousands of children from birth to five years of age in the US.