Blended learning programs improve student achievement

Blended learning programs improve student achievement

Blended learning substantially improves AP test scores and provides dual enrollment opportunities for students at Red Clay CSD.

Innovative and progressive blended learning strategies are being implemented in school districts across the United States. What started as an alternative to face-to-face instruction, blended learning programs have provided students the opportunity to have more control of their learning. Research by the Innosight Institute found that in 2000, roughly 45,000 K12 students took an online course and, by 2010, over 4 million students were participating in some kind of formal online learning program. Horn & Staker (2011) project that by 2019, 50 percent of all high school courses will be delivered online.

Introduction

Beginning with the 2011-12 school year, the Red Clay Consolidated School District in New Castle, Del., developed and implemented a new and innovative blended learning program for high school students within their district. Through a partnership between Alexis I. DuPont High School and the Conrad School of Science and Technology, high school students would be given the opportunity to attend courses offered by the partnering school via live video broadcast using state-of-the-art tools and technology. Classes would be facilitated using a learning management system (Edline) that would assist teachers with course resources, online assignments, discussions and assessments. Courses offered to students through this blended-learning format include: Legal and Bioethics, Sociology (dual enrollment), Comparative Government (AP), U.S. Geography (AP), Statistics (AP), Legal Process, Military History and Historical Fiction, with Italian language being added to the course availability this year.

Program Effectiveness

Participating students benefit from this program on several levels. Primarily, it allows them the opportunity to enroll and complete courses not previously available at their current school. Using advanced technologies, students experience learning in a community-based, student-centered environment.

The format of these classes prepares students for the learning communities they will experience in a higher education environment. The collaboration tools used in this program to enhance student engagement are the same tools used by many colleges and universities. The use of a learning management system has become a staple in the curriculum and learning methods in higher education. Through the use of current technologies and collaboration tools, this format of learning enhances student collaboration and better prepares them for a higher level of learning.

Many of the blended learning courses in this program are dual enrollment classes that grant students college credit upon successful completion of an examination. Through an agreement with Delaware Technical and Community College, students can get a head start on their college requirements. This opportunity provides the potential for financial savings to college bound seniors.

Enrollment

For our first year, there were a total of 139 students enrolled in the blended learning program (about a 60/40 split between the two schools). Now in our third year, there are approximately 200 students in the program—this represents more than a 40 percent increase over the past two years.

RCCSD Blended Learning Enrollment




Academic Year

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

# of Students

139

150

198

% change previous year

 

7.90%

32.0%

Overall Growth

   

42.40%

 

Student Achievement

Over the past two years, a pattern of success can be seen through students’ final grades and advanced placement scores. Listed below is the grade distribution for students participating in the program for the past two years. During this time, 92 percent of students successfully completed their blended learning course.

Grade Distribution Blended Learning Program 2011-13







 

A

B

C

D

F

Total

2011-12

31

27

46

24

11

139

2012-13

46

40

33

20

11

150

YTD Total

77

67

79

44

22

289

Percent

27%

23%

27%

15%

8%

100%

 

AP scores are graded on a 1-5 scale. Colleges and universities generally accept scores of three or greater for entering students. The AP scores during the first two years of the program also illustrate a positive trend. After the first year of the program, approximately 58 percent of the students in this program who took the AP exam received a score of 3 or greater. In the second year, approximately 72 percent of the students scored a three or greater on the exam. This surpassed the average student score throughout the State of Delaware.

AP Scores Blended Learning Program 2011-13






Score

Five

Four

Three

Two

One

2011 - 12

2.20%

15.20%

41.30%

17.40%

23.90%

2012 - 13

21.90%

25.00%

25.00%

9.40%

18.80%

Y-T-D

10.30%

19.20%

34.60%

14.10%

21.80%

 

AP Test Scores

2011-12

2012-13

% score 3+ Program

58.7%

71.9%

% score 3+ State

58.9%

58.4%

 

Student Feedback

School administrators have received positive feedback from students completing the newly formatted classes. During the first two years of the program, students were satisfied with this new learning environment. As illustrated by the student feedback and performance results to date, enhanced student engagement and motivation for learning has a positive effect on student achievement. Listed below are some of the students’ direct responses submitted as feedback of this program:

  • “Many of the students see the Blended Learning program as more than a text book and classroom; it becomes a community of 21st century learners.”
  • “Taking this class has better prepared me to enter the college campus next year.”
  • “We are able to use technology that we don’t have available in other classrooms.”
  • “Assignments can be submitted to the teacher without handing in a hard copy of the assignment.”
  • “Students can work with other students at another location and communicate with them in real-time.”


Summary

The future looks promising for the distance learning program at the Red Clay Consolidated School district. School administrators have received positive feedback from students completing the newly formatted classes. With an enrollment increase of approximately 40% in the third year of the program and a pattern of success through final grades and AP scores, RCCSD plans to expand the program to include at least two other schools in the district and offer additional courses for the 2014-15 school year.

Joseph A. Rapposelli is the distance learning coordinator for the Red Clay Consolidated School District, Delaware.


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