Raise Your Hand Texas selected 75 teams to attend two-day, expense-paid blended learning workshops in September and October 2015. All 75 teams have access to technical assistance to support implementation of a blended learning plan.
Ten finalists (chosen in January 2016) will receive two months of intensive technical assistance to refine their plans.
Five winning school districts will receive up to $500,000 in grant funding over three years and comprehensive implementation support to serve as proof points for the effective implementation of blended learning. Fifteen additional districts were selected as pilot sites and will receive implementation support without grant funding to promote the expansion of blended learning statewide.
Raising Blended Learners is a demonstration initiative showcasing blended learning strategies for improving student achievement across diverse student demographics and geographic regions in Texas, particularly among districts with persistent achievement gaps.
Through a statewide competitive application process, five school districts teams have been selected to receive up to $500,000 and intensive technical assistance over three years, to implement blended learning plans and serve as statewide demonstration sites for blended learning in Texas.
Fifteen additional districts were selected as pilot sites and will receive intensive implementation support (without grant funding) to promote the expansion of blended learning statewide. In addition, all participating schools and districts will have access to resources and technical assistance in support of implementing blended learning programs. Cat Alexander, principal of CA Group, a Texas-based blended learning consultancy, is serving as director of the initiative for Raise Your Hand Texas throughout the selection and implementation phases.
The competition began with 75 school and district teams selected to attend a two-day workshop held the fall of 2015, where they learned how to develop plans for using blended learning to address specific student learning needs. Heather Staker, author of Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools, led the workshops and designed the competition.
A third party evaluation firm, FSG, will analyze the qualitative and quantitative impact of blended learning implementation, providing evaluative reports to inform statewide expansion of blended learning solutions to Texas student performance needs.
Demonstration sites will begin implementation in the 2016-17 school year and receive funding and intensive support over a three-year timeframe as they work to build sustainable blended learning programs in their schools.
Birdville ISD is located in Tarrant County, northeast of Fort Worth with a population of approximately 25,000 students. To improve literacy and college readiness, Birdville ISD will implement a two-part approach at all four of their high schools. At the district’s three traditional high schools, Birdville ISD will pilot station rotation and flipped classroom models in order to personalize instruction and improve performance. In their second project, Birdville ISD will redesign the district’s alternative high school into a school of choice for all students by using a flex model, which will allow learners to speed up or slow down their credit accumulation based on their individual needs.
Cisco ISD s a rural school district in West Texas enrolling 900 students from their community of fewer than 4,000 people. For many years Cisco ISD has been a leader in Region 14 for state accountability scores, consistently surpassing statewide STAAR standards. Despite their current successes, the number of Cisco ISD students excelling by reaching advanced achievement metrics has remained stagnant. To elevate all students to their own individual higher levels of academic achievement, Cisco ISD plans to use a station rotation blended learning model to fill gaps and push students to succeed, as measured by improved performance in math and science at their elementary and middle schools, scaling to all four district schools over three years.
KIPP Houston is a public charter network in Houston and enrolls 12,500 students. To change students’ outcomes and improve college graduation rates, KIPP Houston will pilot two distinct projects focusing on the math pathway. In their first project, KIPP Houston will pilot an in-class flipped classroom, along with differentiated remediation and enrichment based on students’ achievement and goals, to help more students successfully complete Algebra I in the 8th grade and continue along the advanced math sequence throughout high school. In their second project, KIPP Houston will launch a summer Algebra Boot Camp, using a flex model to allow students to learn at their own pace so they will be better prepared for Algebra I coursework when they begin the 8th grade.
Pasadena ISD, southeast of Houston, is one of the 15 largest school districts in Texas with enrolling more than 55,000 students. To improve college enrollment and completion, as well as declining STAAR reading scores, Pasadena ISD will use a flex model to increase STAAR reading scores in grades 5-12; increase participants’ scores on targeted postsecondary readiness indicators; and ultimately increase the number of Pasadena ISD graduates who complete college within six years of high school graduation. Pasadena’s model includes personalized learning time, project-based learning, one-on-one mentoring, and Socratic seminars.
Point Isabel ISD is located at the southernmost tip of Texas and enrolls approximately 2,500 students. Responding to the need to provide flexible school schedules for students who work to help support their families, Point Isabel ISD will pilot a flex model at their high school which will allow personalized learning experiences for all students to improve academic discipline ratings, internship participation, higher education enrollment, and reduce failure rates. Point Isabel ISD will also use station rotation and flipped classroom models in their elementary and middle schools, focusing on creating blended opportunities for all students, particularly English Language Learners and Special Education students.
This kit contains a news release, the Raising Blended Learners initiative grant summary, downloadable Raise Your Hand Texas and Raising Blended Learners logos, images and project statements of the five winning teams, a map of the five demonstration sites and pilot network, YouTube playlists highlighting important benchmarks from the initiative, and downloadable video and photos that illustrate blended learning in action.
Blended learning refers to the blend of online learning and brick-and-mortar schooling. Blended learning takes place when students learn at least in part online, with some element of student control over the time, place, path, and/or pace of their learning, while also enjoying the benefits that come with education at a physical school (Christensen Institute).
Not only will the five demonstration sites provide implementation models for the state, but the Raising Blended Learners initiative will also develop and iteratively improve an ecosystem of technical assistance services to facilitate statewide expansion of blended learning solutions to Texas student performance needs.
The five demonstration sites, and all semifinalists who attended the Raising Blended Learners workshops, will have access to technical assistance in support of blended learning implementation in the following areas:
Raise Your Hand Texas has curated technical assistance resources to support Raising Blended Learners teams as they develop their blended learning plans. On this portal you can access guides, courses, research, and activities on blended learning topics such as professional learning, digital content, school finance, and more. Raise Your Hand Texas will regularly update the portal so you can stay connected to the most up-to-date blended learning resources.
Heather Staker, author of Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools, led four workshops on developing blended learning plans, attended by 375 educators representing 75 Texas schools and districts.
Participants spent an action-packed two days immersed in an authentic blended learning environment, in which the principles of personalization and competency-based progression came to life in real time powered by a digital platform.
With laptops or tablets in hand, teams engaged in online and offline activities that refined their understanding of blended learning and sharpened their vision for how to design a student-centered program in their own schools.
By the end of the two days, participants were able to demonstrate the following four competencies:
Using online playlists and offline group exercises, the workshops challenged participants to engage in the blended learning planning process in a hands-on and applied way. By the end, participants were ready to apply those techniques on their own as they complete their plans as individual teams.
Reflection surveys completed by participants demonstrate the workshops were extremely successful in inspiring schools and districts to pursue blended learning programs:
Workshop participants reported significantly increased levels of understanding across all competencies, in particular: