A blended learning school increases student support
A blended learning high school uses technology to increase teacher-student interaction
Hawaii Technology Academy, Hawaii
When Leigh Fitzgerald became the executive director of Hawaii Technology Academy (HTA) in January of 2012, the school was in state turnaround status. HTA, which opened in 2008, was a supported virtual school with a predominantly online curriculum. Teachers provided face-to-face support for only a few hours a week.
Fitzgerald was charged with revamping the school’s academic program. Her goal was to increase students’ face time with teachers, both to increase student engagement and to support personalized learning. Over the next few years, the school gradually transitioned to an enriched virtual model of blended learning across its multiple sites.
On Oahu, the largest of HTA’s sites, most high school classes in the blended learning model have three components. Students attend face-to-face classes two days a week, participate in live virtual classes one day a week, and engage in independent virtual learning from home two days a week.
Technology is utilized so that the teacher is more available to connect with students individually and provide support to those who specifically need it.
Marc Collins, Math Teacher & GradPoint Administrator
To better support its blended learning model, HTA replaced its digital curriculum with GradPoint®, a set of online courses and services now part of the Pearson Connexus™ suite of offerings, implementing the program in the 2014–2015 school year.
According to Fitzgerald, the program’s wide range of courses has enabled HTA to increase its course offerings. In addition, because teachers control the curriculum, they’ve been able to create courses such as Modern History of Hawaii, a state requirement, and include them in GradPoint.
The faculty’s ability to customize existing GradPoint lessons helps teachers connect with their students. Students “hear the teacher’s voice in the lesson, even if he or she isn’t physically there,” remarked Donna Therrien, the director of pedagogical practices. “It’s not just some questions that are on the computer.”
GradPoint has offered us excellent resources at good value with superior customer service.
Leigh Fitzgerald, Executive Director, HTA
Anna Raduziner, an 11th grader who enrolled in HTA this year, chose HTA because the school offered a variety of courses and she could focus on classes that would give her the credentials to get into the Air Force Academy. The flexibility of the schedule appealed to her as well because she is enrolled in a JROTC course and participates in a youth and government program at the YMCA.
GradPoint has helped Tyanna Kaaialii, an 11th grader, learn effectively. “I absolutely love GradPoint,” she said. Tyanna values the way lessons are broken down, pointing to the helpful introductions, note-taking sessions, and reviews before quizzes. She also appreciates the opportunity to take quizzes multiple times. “Sometimes I may get a good grade, but I keep taking the quizzes just to see the different questions and see how I can better myself in a subject,” she explained.
I have definitely succeeded more with GradPoint than with any of the other programs that HTA has ever had. I’ve learned more. I feel like I retain the information better.
Tyanna Kaaialii, 11th Grader
HTA’s students are performing well in comparison to the charter school and state populations. On the 2014–2015 Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) for English Language Arts (ELA)/Literacy, 72 percent of 11th-grade HTA students scored at Level 3 or above, surpassing the figure for charter schools by 17 percentage points and for the state by 19 percentage points. On the SBA mathematics test, the percentage of HTA 11th graders scoring at Level 3 or above exceeded the percentage for charter schools by 6 percentage points and equaled the state percentage.
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