Raising Blended Learners is a demonstration initiative showcasing strategies for using blended learning to improve student achievement across diverse student demographics and geographic regions in the state, particularly among schools and districts with persistent achievement gaps. Through a 10-month competitive consideration process, five school district winners were selected as demonstration sites, to serve as proof points for the effective implementation of blended learning, each receiving up to $500,000 in grant funding over three years and comprehensive implementation support. Fifteen additional districts were selected as pilot sites and will receive implementation support without grant funding to promote the expansion of blended learning statewide.
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).
Raise Your Hand Texas commissioned FSG to evaluate the Raising Blended Learners initiative – from the organizational planning to the grant competition to implementation by demonstration and pilot sites. Download FSG’s first report, offering an overview and lessons learned from the planning year.
Five winning school districts have been selected to 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.
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 is 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 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.
In addition to the five Demonstration Sites, Raise Your Hand Texas selected fifteen districts as pilot sites to receive comprehensive technical assistance support to implement a blended learning program, without grant funding.
Over the 2016-17 school year, these sites will experience implementation support, coaching, and professional development to help sustain and scale their innovative blended learning plans.
Raise Your Hand Texas has curated technical assistance resources to support Raising Blended Learners teams as they develop and implement 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 regularly updates the portal so you can stay connected to the most up-to-date blended learning resources.