23PERCENTAGE 8PERCENTAGE. Denver Public Schools Evaluation Proves Apex Learning Digital Curriculum Prepares Students for College and Career

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1 EFFICACY STUDY Denver Public Schools Evaluation Proves Apex Digital Curriculum Prepares Students for College and Career JUNE 2015 GRADUATION RATE INCREASED POINTS SINCE PERCENTAGE STUDENT PROFICIENCY INCREASED 8PERCENTAGE POINTS SINCE 2009

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3 Summary Denver Public Schools (DPS) has a vision that Every Child Succeeds, and they are committed to making this happen. Underlying their vision is the goal to create an educational experience that will prepare students for success in life, work, civic responsibility, and higher education. Over the past six years the district has made significant progress, including driving the highest rate of student improvement of any major district in the state, increasing the graduation rate by 23 percentage points, and cutting its dropout rate in half (Denver Public Schools Destination 2020 Plan, 2010). Recognizing that to achieve sustained success, every learner needs to be in an atmosphere of high expectations, DPS partnered with Apex. Since 2009, Apex digital curriculum has been used extensively throughout DPS to provide students with alternative options for completing coursework for initial credit, credit recovery, and exam preparation. To understand the impact Apex digital curriculum is having on their vision of improving student achievement, increasing the graduation rate, and improving college preparedness, DPS Department of Accountability, Research and Evaluation conducted three evaluations spanning school years through The evaluations examined questions of course rigor, academic achievement, impact on dropout rate, and impact on the need for remediation in college. Each year the study was conducted, the outcomes of students using Apex Comprehensive Courses were compared to students using traditional curriculum. Based on district findings, the introduction of Apex digital curriculum has had a positive impact on: Student success in subsequent courses and on high-stakes assessments Dropout rates Matriculation of at-risk students into remedial courses in college Apex Digital Curriculum Provides the Rigor Needed for Sustained Success Success in Subsequent Courses The 2012 evaluation examined the achievement of a cohort of students who completed Algebra I or Intro to Literature and Composition for initial credit or credit recovery in and their performance in subsequent courses in : Geometry or American Literature. Pham states, Algebra 1 Semester 1 and Introduction to Literature and Composition Semester 1 are of primary interest, because these course are among the first courses students have in high school. They are considered the gate keepers to earn credits in higher math and English classes (Pham and Diel, 2012, p.4). 3 of 7

4 DPS students completed courses for initial credit or credit recovery in either a traditional classroom environment or using Apex digital curriculum. For the credit recovery groups, students who earned Algebra I credit by completing Apex courses...were about four times as likely to earn Geometry credit as those who earned Algebra 1 credit through a regular [traditional] classroom (Pham and Diel, 2012, p. 8) Students using Apex courses to recover credit for Intro to Literature and Composition were twice as likely to earn credit in American Literature as those attending traditional classes. For the initial credit groups, students who earned Algebra I credit by completing Apex courses...were about four times as likely to earn a Geometry credit as students earning Algebra credit in regular [traditional classroom] settings (Pham and Diel, 2012, p. 9) Students using Apex to complete Intro to Literature and Composition for initial credit had the same odds of earning credit in American Literature as students attending traditional classrooms. In the 2013 evaluation, the analysis was replicated for the credit recovery groups and included two additional classes: Biology Semester 1 and US History Semester 1. The respective second semester classes were used as the subsequent courses. Chart 1 shows that on average, the percentage of students earning credit in the subsequent course following completion of a core course for credit recovery is 55 percentage points greater for students completing Apex courses than the percent of students completing courses for credit recovery in traditional classrooms. The findings suggest that the rigorous instruction presented in Apex better prepares students for success in their next course. Students completing Apex Comprehensive Courses to recover credit in Algebra 1, Intro to Literature and Composition, Biology, and U.S. History were better prepared to earn credit in the subsequent content area course than students who recovered credit by completing the course in a traditional classroom using different curriculum. Percentage of Credit Recovery Students Earning Credits in the Subsequent Course 100% 80% 85% 92% 86% 100% 60% 67% 72% 40% 51% 51% 20% 0 Apex Non-Apex Apex Non-Apex Apex Non-Apex Apex Non-Apex Algebra 1 Intro to Lit and Comp Biology S1 U.S. History Note: Min N=34. All gaps are statistically significant at 0.05 level (Source: Pham, 2013) 4 of 7

5 Performance on Standardized Assessments Standardized assessments, such as the Transitional Colorado Assessment Program (TCAP) and the ACT are administered to nearly all students in DPS. Therefore, DPS uses student performance on the assessments as a measure of rigor. In the 2013 evaluation, Pham compared the achievement of students who earned initial credit or recovered credit in Algebra 1, Intro to Literature and Composition, and/or Biology using Apex to those attending traditional classrooms. Pham (2013) shows that students who earned credits using Apex courses performed the same or better on standardized tests than students who earned credits by completing traditional courses. Apex Courses Contributed to Significant Dropout Prevention Effect in DPS As falling behind in terms of credit is one of the likely causes of dropping out, we found strong evidence indicating that having APEX [ courses] as an option to recover credit had a significant dropout prevention effect (Pham, 2013, p.1). The scope of the 2013 evaluation was expanded to also examine the impact of Apex courses on the dropout rate. This inquiry included an examination of dropout rates by school and the availability and use of Apex courses as a means for students to recover credit (Pham, 2013, p.12). Chart 2 shows the dropout rate and Apex utilization rate by year for the district. The cumulative effect of using Apex courses for credit recovery has had a significant impact on the dropout rate in DPS. DPS researchers report, The impact on the dropout rate took effect one year after Apex was introduced to DPS (Pham, 2013, p.1). DPS Dropout Rate and Apex Utilization Rate by Year 25% Percent of Students 20% 15% 10% 5% 0 22% 18% 18% 9% 9% 8% 8% 7% 0% 0% Dropout Rate Utilization Note: 2009 is when DPS began using Apex 5 of 7

6 College Readiness: Students Who Use Apex Courses Demonstrate Success on College Readiness Measures Decrease the Need for Remedial Courses in College The third (2014) and final evaluation of Apex digital curriculum in DPS examined the impact of Apex courses on college readiness measures. The findings of this evaluation show that Apex courses have demonstrated impact on the readiness of students most likely and least likely to go to college. One indicator of college readiness is the percent of students who are assessed as needing remediation or take remediation courses in college. At the time the third evaluation was completed, the Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE) reported the remediation rates for the cohort of students that graduated in Researchers at DPS were able to obtain a list of students attending in-state two-year colleges taking courses for or assessed as needing remediation. DPS researchers reported, On average, of students who took 5 years to graduate in 2011, those who utilized Apex [ courses] to recover credits are 60 percent less likely to take a remedial course or [be] assessed as needing remediation in college (Pham, 2014, slide 7). Table 1 shows the percent of students who took five years to graduate in 2011 reported as needing or not needing remediation in college by Apex use Percent of credit recovery students requiring remediation in an in-state 2-year college Credit recovered using Required remediation in 2-year college Required remediation in college No Apex (No) % Yes Apex (Yes) % Yes (Source: Pham, 2014) AP Exam Success Increases Another indicator of college readiness to school districts is performance on the Advanced Placement Exam (AP ). In 2014 DPS students completed 1,223 AP exams. An analysis of the percent of students that passed with a score of 3 or above show that DPS students who used Apex courses for exam review or in a blended learning environment were twice as likely to pass the AP exam as students attending AP classes in a traditional classroom alone (Pham, 2014). *Advanced Placement and AP are registered trademarks and/or owned by the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse this product. 6 of 7

7 Conclusion Through their evaluations of student performance, the DPS Department of Accountability, Research and Evaluation, concluded that Apex digital curriculum is having a positive impact on student achievement throughout DPS and the digital curriculum has a strong impact on graduation rates. These findings are supported by: a decrease in dropout rate; student success in subsequent courses following the completion of Apex courses; student performance on state assessments; and the reduction in the need for remedial courses in college. Based on the success students experience with Apex courses, the DPS Department of Accountability, Research and Evaluation, recommends that the use of Apex digital curriculum continues to be expanded to further increase options for students seeking original credit and credit recovery (Pham, 2013). REFERENCES Denver Public School Destination 2020 Plan, Every Child Succeeds Retrieved from denverplan.dpsk12.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/denver-plan-2020-final.pdf Pham, C., & Diel, A. (2012). Apex program evaluation study: Are online courses less rigorous than in the regular classroom? Denver, CO: Denver Public Schools, Department of Accountability, Research and Evaluation. Retrieved from the author. Pham, C. (2013). Apex program, year 2 evaluation study: Online courses rigor and the link with dropout prevention. Denver, CO: Denver Public Schools, Department of Accountability, Research and Evaluation. Retrieved from the author. Pham, C. (2014). Apex program evaluation study: Apex and the connection with college readiness measures [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from the author. 7 of 7

8 Apex 1215 Fourth Avenue, Suite 1500 Seattle, WA Copyright 2015 Apex Inc. Apex and the Apex logo are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Apex Inc. Advanced Placement and AP are registered trademarks and/or owned by the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse this product.

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