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UNCG, SERVE Inc. to License Educational Programs

GREENSBORO – SERVE Inc., a not-for-profit corporation at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, is being licensed to disseminate research-based educational programs and services – many of which could be developed and tested at the campus – on a national level.

UNCG and SERVE Inc. have signed a licensing and technical assistance agreement, which allows the licensing of educational products and services to be disseminated or sub-licensed to businesses for distribution. Dr. Edward Uprichard, UNCG provost, and Dr. Jack Sanders, executive director of the SERVE Center for Continuous Improvement, made the announcement.

“We see this as one of the most exciting and most promising steps that UNCG has taken in its commitment to helping public education,” Uprichard said. “A tremendous amount of educational research is under way on this campus, much of it federally funded through the SERVE Center. This step will allow us to move research developed here into practice.”

Uprichard and Sanders said that the agreement positions SERVE Inc. as an entity, which will allow both the SERVE Center and the university to play a national role in developing and broadly disseminating educational programs. Research and programs developed through UNCG and the SERVE Center, which address educational issues such as those posed in the No Child Left Behind legislation, can then be directly distributed and sub-licensed to businesses for national dissemination.

"Currently, there is a gap between the development of research-based education products for the schools and the implementation of those products in classrooms,” Sanders said. “As a result of this gap, our students are being slighted and our nation's research and development efforts are being marginalized. Organizations like SERVE, Inc. demonstrate the importance of research and development, and at the same time provide high quality, relevant, useful tools and products for classroom teachers and education policy makers."

SERVE Inc. already has its first product in Senior Project, a program for high school seniors that was developed in Medford, Ore. UNCG has acquired the rights to Senior Project, and has licensed those rights to SERVE Inc. for distribution or sub-licensing to businesses. Carleen Osher, who is the creator of Senior Project, has joined SERVE Inc. to lead the Senior Project unit. The new entity is located at 915 Northridge Avenue, the offices of the SERVE Center.  Technically, SERVE Inc. is a 509 (a)(3) corporation, which was created as a support organization to the university.

The SERVE Center is an education organization with the mission to promote and support continuous improvement of educational opportunities in the Southeast. SERVE’s priority is developing tools and strategies to assist educators in systemic education reform efforts. SERVE has been affiliated with the UNCG and the School of Education since its inception in 1990. It administers contracts and grants totaling approximately $15 million for 2003, $51.5 million for the period 2000-2005, and over $125 million since its inception in 1990. As a research and development center at UNCG, the SERVE Center’s core business is the operation of the Regional Educational Laboratory of the Southeast.

Major projects and programs that are part of the SERVE Center include the Southeast Initiatives Regional Technology in Education Consortium, the Eisenhower Math and Science Consortium for the Southeast, a subcontract for the operation of the Region IV Comprehensive Technical Assistance Center, the Anchor Schools Program and the National Center for Homeless Education. These and a number of smaller projects, which are in collaboration with business, education and policy organizations, help SERVE identify and address pressing educational needs of the region.

Many programs have been developed through the conceptual stage into implementation at the regional level through SERVE, which covers six Southeastern states. All of the programs go through rigorous field-testing to determine their effectiveness in helping schools. Through the SERVE Inc. licensing process, these and other programs can be licensed for dissemination on a national basis.

“These are the types of programs that address critical issues in education,” said Dr. Richard Basom, who is SERVE’s deputy executive director and managing director of SERVE Inc. “My image of SERVE Inc. in three-to-five years is that of an education incubator. Through SERVE’s rigorous process of product development, testing and systematic dissemination, it will demonstrate and document the effects of educational programs. Those programs can then be licensed to firms that will market and deliver them to large numbers of schools and students across the country and around the world.”

Serve Inc.’s new mission will create opportunities in technology transfer for educational materials, said Jerry McGuire, who is director of technology transfer at UNCG. He said that ventures such as the one being undertaken by SERVE Inc. and UNCG meet the guidelines of the 1980 federal Bayh-Dole Act, which calls on institutions receiving federal research money to move discoveries from the lab to the market place.

“This new approach will take that marvelous research that’s been tested and get it into the classroom.” McGuire said. “SERVE Inc. is a new development in this area. On a national level, America has done a very good job in creating products and marketing them from research in the hard sciences, but very little has been done in education. Now, UNCG is taking a lead role in this emerging area.”

 In addition to Senior Project, SERVE Inc. is obtaining rights to three other programs, some of which it is developing as products for licensure. They are Teacher Growth and Assessment (TGA), a program directly involved with teacher evaluation and development, which was developed at SERVE; Formative Evaluation Package for School Improvement (fepsi©), an evaluation program that was developed at the University of Memphis; and Onward To Excellence II (OTE II), a school reform process that involves individuals, schools and the district which was developed at the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory in Portland, Ore.

For programs to be considered for dissemination by SERVE Inc. as products, each must have been documented as research-based. This means that credible studies have been performed, published and critiqued by objective researchers and practitioners in the field. A program then earns the SERVE Seal of Assurance. A higher-rated SERVE Seal of Assurance is awarded when programs have been further scrutinized in random clinical trials and/or tested for effectiveness.
“We want the SERVE seal to be an assurance that any educational product we would sub-license has met very high standards of quality, utility and relevance,” Basom said.



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