Located 30 miles northeast of downtown Austin, Georgetown Independent School District is a historically successful district serving roughly 11,000 students. In 2015, Georgetown district and campus leaders saw the Raising Blended Learners initiative as an opportunity to proactively address a growing trend of low student academic growth and readiness for advanced math coursework.
“Ultimately, it’s about making sure that as a campus, our focus is on serving the whole child. If we’re truly committed to serving the whole child, then we have to have blended learning. We have to have personalization.” – Brian Dawson, Principal at Tippet Middle School
Despite a 97% graduation rate, district and campus leaders identified the need to address stagnant student growth represented in state accountability scores and internal curriculum-based assessments, in particular in secondary math. Recognizing low levels of student motivation and interest in math, as well, the Georgetown team leveraged student-centered blended learning to redesign the student’s experience in math.
The district’s blended learning strategy is guided by the Georgetown Learner Profile, a vision of student characteristics that foster success in college and the workplace. With the goal of academic and career excellence, the Learner Profile presents a commitment to providing learning environments that produce students who:
In year one, Tippit Middle School launched a highly-personalized station rotation blended learning model in all three of their 6th grade math classrooms. In year 2, they expanded their pilot to include 7th and 8th grade teachers and added components of an individual rotation. This blended learning model supported the transition from primarily teacher-led, whole-group instruction to increased opportunities for targeted small-group instruction, personalized student pathways, and collaborative activities.
Math pilot teachers utilize multiple data sources including a nationally-normed interim assessment tool, which provides standards-level data and daily learning results to inform small group instruction needs and student pathways. Pilot teachers recognized the need to break the learning standards into smaller subskills and objectives to pinpoint the specific areas where understanding was breaking down. As part of the Tippit blended learning pilot, teachers and students work to close learning gaps through student progress ownership including increased transparency in learning data and student-facing progress monitoring tools. In addition, teachers use agency strategies to provide students flexibility in the pace and path of their learning.
Flexible Instructional Grouping
Clarity of Learning/Data Transparency
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 Georgetown Student Experience Design Pillars are: Flexible Instructional Groupings, Clarity of Learning/Data Transparency, Student Agency, Data-Driven Instruction, and Deeper Learning.
Flexible Instructional Grouping refers to utilizing a variety of instructional groupings (small group, whole group, partner, 1:1) to maximize student performance. Grouping arrangements are made in response to individual student data indicating the appropriate instructional level and pace.
Clarity of Learning/Data Transparency ensures learning data is transparent and accessible to students and teachers through the use of student-facing progress monitoring tools and efforts to connect the daily learning tasks of students with short- and long-term goals.
Student Agency/Ownership refers to the level of control, autonomy, and power that a student experiences in an educational situation. Student ownership can manifest in the choice of learning environment, approach, and/or pace.
Data-Driven Instruction is a systematic approach to assessing, analyzing and acting that gives both students and teachers an understanding of where students are and what they need most. This method supports flexible, personalized instruction that uses data to develop purposeful progression for students.
The final design pillar, Deeper Learning, was added in year two based on a recognition of the need to design and facilitate learning experiences which demand an appropriate level of cognitive engagement that leads to a high level of learning for all students.