An evening high school uses an individualized digital learning solution to help at-risk students graduate


An evening high school uses an individualized digital learning solution to help at-risk students graduate

Mountain Education Charter High School, Georgia

Mountain Education Charter High School (MECHS) was founded in 1993 to help decrease the dropout rate in North Georgia. It offers an evening program across eleven sites to help at-risk students, including high school dropouts, earn a high school diploma. Students from other schools in the district also come to MECHS for credit recovery, so they can graduate with their class.

MECHS decided to transition to a new digital learning solution to provide self-paced learning and differentiated instruction. It chose GradPoint®, a set of online courses and services now part of the Pearson Connexus suite of offerings. Because students attend MECHS year-round, the school had to implement the program without interrupting students’ education. In a nine-month period, from July 2014 to March 2015, Brad Barnes, the instructional technology coordinator, went from site to site, spending three weeks at each location getting the new digital solution up and running.

With GradPoint, MECHS gained a curriculum that “has a very high bar,” according to Dianne Hardy, a math teacher. “The rigor of it prepares students for post-secondary education,” remarked Dr. Sheri Hardin, assistant school superintendent.

Sheri Hardin is responsible for ensuring that the GradPoint curriculum meets Georgia’s standards. MECHS found that it had very little work to do to fill in gaps, and any course customization in GradPoint was easy to accomplish. Where necessary, the school supplemented the curriculum with other Pearson materials or with materials it created.

GradPoint is a superior standards-based curriculum.

Dianne Hardy, Math Teacher

Another great advantage of the digital learning solution is that it offers individualized, self-paced instruction in keeping with the school’s educational approach. GradPoint “is really about the individual student, and that is the best part of it,” said Sheri Hardin. “GradPoint helped me meet my goals,” commented one 11th grader, “by being able to work at my own pace and being able to take quizzes or tests more than once.”

The courses are organized, easy to learn from, and very convenient.

11th-Grade Student

Many of MECHS’s at-risk students face great obstacles on their path to graduation. MECHS thus defines its success student by student. “When you see one of those kids walk across the stage getting that diploma, it is all worth it,” Hardin said. “That is our mission.”

In 2014, MECHS received a Crystal Star Award of Excellence in Dropout Recovery, Intervention, and Prevention from the National Dropout Prevention Network. During the 2013–2014 school year, the school awarded 251 diplomas. In 2014–2015, the year MECHS transitioned to GradPoint, it awarded 323 diplomas. Hardin credits GradPoint’s flexibility and self-paced learning with helping the school further its mission.

The use of GradPoint enables MECHS to fulfill our mission of helping students earn their high school diplomas.

Sheri Hardin, Assistant School Superintendent

MECHS is happy to share its experiences with other educators working with at-risk students. It will deliver a presentation on the GradPoint implementation and student success at the 2015 symposium run by iNACOL, the International Association for K–12 Online Learning. Brad Barnes is currently providing GradPoint training to Foothills Education Charter High School, an evening school similar to MECHS that serves at-risk students.

MECHS plans to use an academic tracking system to determine how to help its students complete the digital courses more efficiently. The school’s ultimate goal is to ensure the success of more students.

To learn more about MECHS’s use of a digital learning solution to provide flexible, self-paced learning, read the full success story.

Read the full success story

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