Modern student progress looks like this

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1 Modern student progress looks like this An online high school uses data to help visualize each student s journey

2 Overview In Colorado, the mandate is clear: ensure students at each grade level are being prepared to enter the workforce or pursue higher education. Goals are clearly established and assessments and activities that drive mastery of content are laid out. While Academy Online High School (AOHS) must achieve the same goals as every other school, there are two major differences in its approach: it teaches students who might never have finished high school otherwise and it operates completely online. To facilitate success, AOHS did something unheard of in high school education: it used technology to predict and analyze where each student might stumble. For helping high school students avoid pitfalls in order to reach state standards and achieve personal goals, AOHS won the 2014 Desire2EXCEL Innovation Award. AT A GLANCE Client Academy Online High School (AOHS) Students 400 students Level High School Solutions Brightspace Online Learning, Brightspace Curriculum Library and Brightspace Advanced Analytics CHALLENGE Support every student s learning needs and goals Align the experience to common core and regional standards Offer online completion of classes for graduation Enable credit recovery Support every student s learning style at their own pace Improve communication SOLUTION Deliver customized courses and content Access actionable insights on learner performance through the D2L Student Success System (S3) tool s predictive analytics Reduce or eliminate the attainment gap by addressing student issues before they occur Evaluate learner performance to give teachers opportunities to improve Increase communication efficacy by providing detailed prescriptive feedback RESULT 1 36% reduction in student failure rate over the last five years Increase from 100 to 400 students served by school 10.1% higher average score on state-mandated math test compared to district-wide high school average 2 1 Results and statistics provided by Academy Online High School

3 Challenge AN ALTERNATIVE WAS NEEDED Launched in 2009, AOHS was designed for traveling military families and as a way to supplement traditional in-building education. They were overwhelmed by the demand. We serve all kinds of kids who just need a more flexible schedule, says Rick Tanski, Principal of AOHS. They may be unable to attend school due to medical reasons, or because they re part of a military family, or perhaps there s a personal issue. Our job is to help them all graduate. USEFUL INFORMATION MUST BE SHARED What s more, the information had to be easy to communicate: We needed the ability to deliver constructive feedback in a more meaningful and impactful manner and not just to students, but to parents and teachers as well. Tanski believes an integral part of the learning process is regular feedback. He explains, teachers must become the directors of learning rather than the collectors and reporters of point accumulation. To do that, they need a lot of communication tools at their disposal. EVERY STUDENT HAS UNIQUE NEEDS Tanski and his team believe that you can t help students move forward until you know what s holding them back. To that end, they wanted to learn more about individual challenges but their incumbent platform wasn t helping. In 2011, AOHS switched to a platform with the tools they needed. One of the things that drew us to the Brightspace platform is D2L s focus on serving kids and teachers, says Tanski. We needed some kind of method or mechanism to help facilitate a deeper understanding of each student s progress, he says. We wanted a tool that could not only effectively visualize a learner s progress against our state and national standards but also quickly identify learners who may be at risk of not accomplishing defined learning goals as early as possible. 3

4 Solution AOHS BECOMES ONE OF THE FIRST TO USE BRIGHTSPACE INSIGHTS STUDENT SUCCESS SYSTEM Eager to find new ways to advance online education, AOHS became one of the first K 12 schools in the world to discover the benefits of the Brightspace Insights Student Success System. While already in use in many leading higher education institutions globally, it was a first for K 12. The product works by using data already in the Brightspace platform to create a rich visualization of each student s progress using simple, colorful graphs. Says Tanski, The product allows us to understand very quickly and easily where students are and where they may be going. It allows us to take impersonal data and translate it into meaningful communication points so we can connect with students on a deeper level in their learning. Teachers can also see how students are performing according to standards: Using the solution, we ve set up our Grade Book so that the categories represent areas from state and national standards. We can see a graphical representation of where a student is and get a reasonable way to judge current progress. THE HELP THEY NEED BEFORE THEY NEED IT The tool also helps teachers make predictions. They can trend overall learner performance and plan for any remediation efforts before students even know they need help. We use the data to inform instruction at the moment of learning, says Tanski. In other words, a teacher knows where a student might struggle and can address the issue while teaching to avoid the usual disappointing results. That s the really big take away. Tanski adds, The product is completely customizable, which is important because every kid is different. ENCOURAGING IMPROVEMENTS IN TEACHING In the standards-based system used by AOHS, teachers are evaluated based on student growth and achievement. Using the Brightspace Insights Student Success System, they can see how students are progressing, which gives them a measure of their own performance. Effective teachers want to improve through increased student learning, says Tanski. Traditional pointaccumulation systems force them to address the needs of the middle, leaving little time for those needing advancement or remediation. The product gives teachers the details they need to meet the needs of each individual student. Teachers use the insights they get from graphs produced using the solution to prepare reports for students and parents. The feedback tends to be more powerful and prescriptive. It s a fantastic way for teachers to make adjustments and store their instructions. Some teachers take screen shots of the grades graph to show students where they are in this collection of information, and how they can best get to their goals, Tanski says. Parents benefit, too: Those parents who receive information from the product have clear and visually relevant expressions of their kid s progress. 4

5 In a traditional classroom, if teachers have 150, 160, 180 kids, they can t individualize their instruction or make mid-course corrections and they can t remediate in advance. But you can do that in a technology-mediated environment it s what we do with the Brightspace platform. Rick Tanski, Principal, Academy Online High School 5

6 Result IT S NOT BETTER ONLINE EDUCATION IT S BETTER EDUCATION With the help of the Brightspace Insights Student Success System, AOHS is creating fresh dialogue about student progress. The graphs and calculations more accurately reflect student learning, allowing them to move beyond the simple grade or point calculations toward a system that delivers feedback in a more meaningful way. We re extremely excited about how it s helping us guide students toward the desired learning outcomes, says Tanski. In their own words, here are a few examples of what AOHS students are saying about the experience: 2 Through the online schooling at AOHS I have come to enjoy my classes more than I do in school because I am not restricted to a specific time or location in which I can complete my assignments. This is, by far, the best learning experience I ve had in a long time. TRANSFORMING EDUCATION ONE STUDENT AT A TIME What s happening at AOHS goes deeper than good grades. Our teachers are leaving their usual practices behind and taking a more individualistic approach to progress and achievement, says Tanski. Overall it was a good option and very convenient because I was not able to take this class at school due to scheduling stuff. I m thankful for the opportunity I had to take this online class so that I could get the credit I needed. For students, it s a matter of learning how to learn. Tanski explains, While students are excited and intrigued by the product, the ultimate goal in using Brightspace is to drive a new dialogue with them, one that s founded on continuous progress. They begin to think, here are my learning goals, here s how I can track progress to meet those goals, and here s how I am progressing on a dayby-day basis. I never thought that I would choose online over in-building but I will continue to do online classes until I graduate. 6 2 Quotes provided by Academy Online High School

7 Result continued MORE GRADUATIONS AND BETTER GRADES Since their pilot year, AOHS enrollment has exploded from 100 students to more than 400. While AOHS is finding success in untraditional ways, their results can be measured using traditional methods. The school has been tracking the percentage of total grades each semester for the past five years. Tanski says, More kids are passing with Cs or higher and fewer kids are in the D to F range. From 2013 to 2014 we ve reduced our failure rate by 36%. 3 In some cases, AOHS students are even surpassing their bricks-and-mortar cohorts. Tanski explains: when we compare ourselves district-wide, specifically in grades nine and ten math, we have generally scored about ten percentage points higher on a three-year rolling average Results and statistics provided by Academy Online High School 4 Results and statistics provided by Academy Online High School

8 About D2L D2L is the software leader that makes the learning experience better. The company s cloud-based platform Brightspace is not a common one-size-fits-all learning management system (LMS). It s easier to use, more flexible, and smart. With Brightspace, you can personalize the experience for every learner to deliver real results. The company is also a world leader in learning analytics: its platform predicts learner performance so that you can take action in real time to keep them on track. Brightspace is used by learners in higher education, K 12, and the enterprise sector, including the Fortune D2L has operations in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, Brazil, and Singapore. CONTACT US Phone: (Worldwide) Toll Free: (North America) (United Kingdom and Europe) (New Zealand) (Australia) (Brazil) Fax: Web: D2L Corporation. The D2L family of companies includes D2L Corporation, D2L Ltd, D2L Australia Pty Ltd, D2L Europe Ltd, D2L Asia Pte Ltd, and D2L Brasil Soluções de Tecnologia para Educação Ltda. All D2L marks are trademarks of D2L Corporation. Please visit D2L.com/trademarks for a list of D2L marks. 8

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