Crockett County Consolidated Common School District is a rural district located in Ozona, a small town of 3,200 in southwest Texas. The school district was invited to join the Raising Blended Learners rural cohort for the final year of the grant initiative and began piloting blended learning in the 2018-19 school year. Much of the district’s initial pilot planning and teacher onboarding was supported through exposure and learning from existing Raising Blended Learners rural sites: Cisco ISD, Mineola ISD, and Tulia ISD. For example, Crocket County CCSD’s campus leaders and teachers attended multiple showcases in Cisco, Mineola and Tulia; and collaborated with other Raising Blended Learners rural educators during rural cohort design studios.
“I keep a picture of a little kitten looking in the mirror and it sees this big lion. And that’s how our elementary school students see themselves. They see that lion and know someday they will roar. But as they get older and they aren’t finding success in school, pretty soon that lion in the mirror is illusive. We had to change students’ ideas of what they could do.” – Tamara McWilliams, Principal, Ozona High School & Blended Learning Project Manager
Crocket County CCSD identified blended learning as an opportunity to close academic gaps in basic reading and foundational math skills, as well as low student motivation. While the school district’s students typically make a year’s growth in K-2, they are not ready for 3rd grade as demonstrated by consistent 70% STAAR passage in grades 3-8. The 30% who fail tend to be the same students every year. Students who fail have low expectations of their ability to improve and student motivation suffers.
In the 2018-19 school year, Crocket County CCSD has active pilot blended classroom in multiple K-8 classes and subject areas (including math, reading/ELA and science) with the aim to close academic gaps and improve student motivation. For the 2019-20 school year, based on current teacher interest in opting into blended learning, the district plans to scale blended learning to almost all elementary classrooms and two-thirds of middle school classrooms, and initiate blended learning in four classrooms at the high school.
Crocket County CCSD allowed teachers considerable autonomy to design their blended classrooms in accordance with the district vision for a personalized student experience. The majority of pilot teachers launched blended learning in a station rotation format while several teachers started with individual rotation to allow students to move fluidly through stations rather than on a fixed schedule. By the end of the first pilot year, a number of pilot classrooms evolved into flex model classrooms where students progress through content at their own pace. In these classrooms, students follow weekly playlists to work through online and offline content at their own pace. Many of the playlists provide differentiated content based on individual student data and most allow students to advance to more challenging learning activities once playlist activities are completed. Another common feature of Crocket County CCSD’s pilot classrooms is students taking a more active role in making decisions about learning activities and self-monitoring their progress. Student data trackers/ binders are in regular use in most classrooms to help students track their progress toward TEK mastery, lesson completion and a host of other learning objectives. This allows students to reflect on their learning progress on a daily basis and motivates them to remain engaged and push toward success.
Personalized Learning Experiences
Design pillars are used among all Raising Blended Learners sites to identify the essential design elements upon which each site’s student experience is based. The Crocket County CCSD design pillars include: Student Agency, Data-Driven Learning, Personalized Learning Experiences, Competency-Based Learning, and Positive Adult Relationships.
The school district believes Student Agency is critical to increasing student engagement and aspires to offer students meaningful choices related to their pace of learning, resources and learning activities utilized to master standards, and options related to their preferred learning environment.
Data-Driven Learning brings students directly into conversations about how they are progressing and makes them active partners in the learning process. The district’s students are provided with ongoing opportunities to complete various types of formative and summative assessments, and analyze and act on the results.
Crocket County CCSD offers Personalized Learning Experiences through various classroom strategies. These include grouping students for small group and individual instruction based on data, leveraging online and teacher-curated content relevant to students’ learning needs for students to work through at their own pace, and providing opportunities for frequent student collaboration.
Through Competency-Based Learning the school district is introducing new assessments (including pre-tests), and changing data-driven instruction and classroom practices to allow students to move to more challenging work tasks once they demonstrate mastery of requisite knowledge and skills. Students are no longer bound to only grade-level standards. Instead, they are afforded opportunities to circle back to previous standards to fill academic gaps or accelerate to more advanced standards.
The district aspires for all students to develop Positive, Collaborative Relationships with their teachers and other adults/mentors. Teachers are improving relationships with students through more small group and individual instruction, and introducing coaching sessions, during which students connect with teachers to celebrate progress and work on practices of self-directed learning, including goal setting, learning strategies, and reflection.
Positive Adult Relationships