Virtual School Meanderings

April 11, 2016

AERA 2016 – Multiple Perspectives on a Blended Learning Initiative in a Large Suburban High School

As I mentioned in the entry entitled AERA 2016 and K-12 Online Learning, the 2016 annual meeting of the American Education Research Association is occurring in Washington, DC over the next few days.  That means that I will be blogging many of the sessions throughout the week.  The eleventh session (and the first one for today) that I am blogging is:

Multiple Perspectives on a Blended Learning Initiative in a Large Suburban High School

  • In Event: Poster Session 10
    In Poster Session: Designing Effective Learning Environments II

10:00 to 11:30am, Convention Center, Level Two, Exhibit Hall D

Abstract

This study examines a blended learning initiative in a large suburban high school in the Midwestern region of the United States. It employs a single-case exploratory design approach to learn about the experience of administrators, teachers, students, and parents. Using Zimmmerman’s Self-Regulated Learning (SRL) Theory as a guiding framework, this study explores surveys, face-to-face observation data, interview transcriptions, and focus group transcriptions to learn about different perspectives on the experience as well as on student readiness for high school blended learning classes. As a result, the data suggests four majors themes, namely how blended learning initiatives can transform and reinvigorate instruction, capitalize on the affordances of flex time, build productive relationships, and support 21st century students and educators.

Authors

  • Aimee Whiteside, University of Tampa
  • Amy E. Garrett Dikkers, University of North Carolina – Wilmington
  • Somer Lewis, University of North Carolina – Wilmington

As this was a poster session, I took pictures of the poster.

IMG_5958

Click on any image to view a larger version.

IMG_5959 IMG_5960 IMG_5961

This poster was largely based on on an article entitled “Do You Blend? Huntley High School Does.

April 10, 2016

AERA 2016 – The Implementation and Impacts of Blended Learning in Catholic and Jewish Community Day Schools

As I mentioned in the entry entitled AERA 2016 and K-12 Online Learning, the 2016 annual meeting of the American Education Research Association is occurring in Washington, DC over the next few days.  That means that I will be blogging many of the sessions throughout the week.  The tenth session (and the only one for today) that I am blogging is:

The Implementation and Impacts of Blended Learning in Catholic and Jewish Community Day Schools

  • In Event: Using Digital Technology to Create Unique Learning Spaces

2:45 to 4:15pm, Marriott Marquis, Level Two, Marquis Salon 14

Abstract

This research explores the implementation and impacts of blended learning in nine independent schools. We draw on interviews, focus groups, surveys, student performance data, and financial and administrative documents to better understand schools’ approaches to blended learning implementation, stakeholder experiences, student outcomes, and impacts on schools’ financial needs.

Findings suggest that blended learning can support academic learning and non-cognitive skill development. However, blended learning implementation demands significant teacher time and teachers require support, especially around data use. Early student outcomes analysis suggests that blended learning is associated with test score increases in math, particularly for students that began the academic year performing low academically. Blended learning has not yet helped schools in this study to substantially freeze or reduce costs.

Authors

  • Tricia Maas, University of Washington
  • Betheny Gross, University of Washington
  • Larry Miller, Rutgers University
  • Patrick Denice, University of Washington

So while Tricia was listed as being at the University of Washington, she represented the Center for Reinventing Public Education (CRPE).  Anyway, the schools that were a part of this study were using a station rotation model.  The rationale for this model – based on the new-liberal propaganda – is that it allows for student control of their learnings, it allows for individualized instruction, it provides better data from the learning management system, and it is more cost efficient.

Most of the research into blended learning has focused on cheaters , and has often been case studies focused on the importance of infrastructure, professional development, and variable content quality.  There have been limited impact studies, which have results in mixed to positive findings.  There has been a deficient of research on blended learning in religious school contexts (even though they have much of the autonomy that charter schools have).

The sample included 9 schools: 5 Jewish schools and 4 Catholic schools (2 of which were the primary focus).  The Jewish schools tended to have higher tuition, as well as more grant funding.  The Catholic schools had lower tuition and also a wider range of of students (and a much higher percentage of at-risk students).  The studies themselves were done over two years, including 2 rounds of surveys with students, teachers, and parents; as well as site visits.

The findings included:

  • Teachers needed support, particularly when it came to managing and using the data to inform instruction
  • Often times there was a blended learning coordinator at the school, and those schools teachers did report to feeling more supported in those contexts
  • Blended learning did not have a meaningful impact on how well they knew their students in a non-academic sense 
  • It was also reported that blended learning didn’t impact the religious values of the schools
  • Teachers did report that blended learning had a positive impact on the academic relationship s with their students
  • Some schools experienced parent resistance to blended learning, and those that did not it was due to the fact that they did a good job up front of explaining how blended learning was being implemented in the schools

One of the key take always from the researchers was that the schools were concerned that blended learning would impact the school culture, but it often did not have much of an impact.  In the case of the Catholic schools it was because it was already engrained into the ethos of the school, whereas in the Jewish schools it was largely due to the small class sizes that the school culture was able to be forced onto the schools and its students.

Another take always that was presented was that granting parents the ability to experience blended learning was important to both have them understand the system and to gain their support for the project.

April 9, 2016

AERA 2016 – Effects of Expanding Summer Credit Recovery in Algebra

As I mentioned in the entry entitled AERA 2016 and K-12 Online Learning, the 2016 annual meeting of the American Education Research Association is occurring in Washington, DC over the next few days.  That means that I will be blogging many of the sessions throughout the week.  The ninth session (and last for today) that I am blogging is:

Effects of Expanding Summer Credit Recovery in Algebra

  • In Event: Getting At-Risk Students Back on Track: Results From a Randomized Trial of Algebra Credit Recovery

4:05 to 6:05pm, Marriott Marquis, Level Two, Marquis Salon 2

Abstract

Purpose & Theoretical Framework
This study examines the benefits of offering expanded credit recovery options for ninth grade algebra, relative to business as usual. In particular, we test to what extent expanding the number of seats available in summer school classes as well as the outreach efforts informing students of and encouraging their attendance to summer school results in increased credit recovery. In addition, we examine if this increased credit recovery results in long-term attainment and achievement gains.

Methods
In summers 2011 and 2012, some high schools in CPS were given the resources (funding for teacher salaries, logistical support finding teachers and recruiting students) for sections of second-semester Algebra I credit recovery courses. Schools were eligible to participate if they fell above a cut-off point in terms of the number of their students who failed second semester algebra in 2010.

Using difference-in-difference approach, comparing two pre-treatment and two post-treatment cohorts of ninth graders, and schools that were eligible and those that were not, we perform two school-level analyses and one student-level analysis. The first analysis uses a school fixed effect model to examine the intent-to-treat (ITT) effect of receiving an invitation to participate in expanded summer credit recovery. The second analysis examines the local treatment-on-the-treated (TOT) effect of accepting to participate in expanded summer credit recovery. We assume that, conditional on cohort size and failure rates in the current year, the number of failures in a past year (i.e., 2010) is only related to our outcome of interest through participating in expanded credit recovery. Thus, we use eligibility status in a year to instrument for participation. The third analysis examines the local effect of successfully recovering an algebra credit over the summer using a similar instrumental variables approach.

Data Sources
Administrative records from Chicago Public Schools including enrollment, course taking, grades, attendance, and standardized test scores are used in this analysis.

Results
In schools that participated in the study, 28% of freshman who failed second semester algebra recovered the credit over the summer, in contrast to 13% who would have recovered in absence of expanded credit recovery. Students at schools with expanded credit recovery were more likely to take future math courses on time, but experience no detectable changes in future test scores. Four-year high school graduation outcomes will be available fall 2015 and analyzed well in advance of AERA.

Scholarly Significance
There is some evidence from prior literature that intensive remedial programs over the summer improve student test scores when there are strong incentives for students to demonstrate growth. However, there is little evidence about the extent to which standard credit recovery produces similar gains in learning outcomes or educational attainment. We provide evidence that business-as-usual summer credit recovery does not produce detectable test score gains. With graduation data (expected September 2015), we will be able to conclude whether credit recovery lead to greater educational attainment, even absent test score gains.

Authors

  • Elaine M. Allensworth, University of Chicago
  • Valerie Michelman, University of Chicago

I believe that this portion of the session focused on the research brief entitled “Comparing the Effectiveness of Online and Face-to-Face Credit Recovery in Algebra I” (see http://www.air.org/resource/comparing-effectiveness-online-and-face-face-credit-recovery-algebra-i).

Valerie indicated that the main purpose of this portion of the session was to examine what was the payoff of actually recovering a credit after failing algebra the first time.  In an overall sense, the two main benefits it seemed were:

  1. credit accumulation – the ability to catch up early and not have to repeat or be held back
  2. content accumulation – the ability to have a better content-based grounding for tests like the ACT and SAT

In terms of this specific project, because the research project was funding some of these opportunities (and the research team were trying to recruit participants), there were more opportunities for these ninth graders to recover credit – and students and their parents were more aware of these opportunities at this stage.

Based on all of these efforts, the research team estimated that in the schools that there had students participating the normal credit recovery rate would have been 13%, but due to the efforts of the research team they were able to boost that to 28%.  But beyond that single measure, there were no differences in student performance in following years, graduation outcomes, GPAs, SAT/ACT scores, total credits obtained, etc..

I also wanted to note some previous online algebra research conducted by AIR prior to this study:

Other entries from this session:

AERA 2016 – Getting Back on Track: Who Needs Algebra I Credit Recovery and Subsequent Achievement Gaps

As I mentioned in the entry entitled AERA 2016 and K-12 Online Learning, the 2016 annual meeting of the American Education Research Association is occurring in Washington, DC over the next few days.  That means that I will be blogging many of the sessions throughout the week.  The eighth session that I am blogging is:

Getting Back on Track: Who Needs Algebra I Credit Recovery and Subsequent Achievement Gaps

  • In Event: Getting At-Risk Students Back on Track: Results From a Randomized Trial of Algebra Credit Recovery

4:05 to 6:05pm, Marriott Marquis, Level Two, Marquis Salon 2

Abstract

Objectives and Theoretical Framework
To properly interpret the effects of credit recovery interventions, it is important to understand the context within which these interventions operate. Focusing on an Algebra I credit recovery intervention in Chicago Public Schools (CPS), in this paper, we describe one aspect of this context: the types of students who need the intervention and the academic deficits they face both before and after the intervention. In particular, we address two primary research questions: (1) What types of students enrolled in a summer credit recovery course after failing Algebra IB in 9th grade; and (2) Did students enrolled in a summer credit recovery course shrink high school performance gaps.

Methods and Data Sources
To address these research questions, we examined student characteristics and high school outcomes for 11,302 students who were first-time freshmen in either the 2010–11 or
2011–12 cohorts from one of the 17 CPS study schools.

Results
Students who failed Algebra IB in 9th grade had many academic deficits on top of Algebra IB failures. On average, students who failed Algebra IB also failed about four other semester courses, and about half of the students failed both Algebra IA and Algebra IB. By the end of 9th grade, students who failed Algebra IB on average had a GPA below a D average, and only about one in 10 students were on track to graduate within four years. Although students who enrolled in Algebra IB credit recovery in the summer had slightly better academic performance in 9th grade than did students who failed but did not seek credit recovery, the vast majority of students faced numerous setbacks going into their second year of high school even if they recovered Algebra IB credit in the summer.

By the end of the second year of high school, students who recovered Algebra IB credit in the summer were more likely to have received full Algebra I credit than were students who failed Algebra IB and did not enroll in summer credit recovery. Students who recovered Algebra IB credit did not, however, narrow other academic gaps during the second year of high school. As a result, students who recovered Algebra IB credit over the summer were still much less likely to be on-track for graduation after their second year of high school compared to students who originally passed Algebra IB.

Scholarly Significance
A better understanding of the broader academic deficits student must overcome provides researchers and practitioners with the appropriate perspective for interpreting results from credit recovery impact interventions. In the case of the CPS credit recovery intervention, it is easier to understand small to null impacts on long-term academic outcomes given that the targeted student population required a myriad set of supports beyond recovering Algebra IB credit.

Authors

  • Jordan Rickles, American Institutes for Research
  • Lauren Fellers, Teachers College, Columbia University

Jordan provided a 15-20 session on who were the students that needed to recover algebra credit after ninth grade.  So this was essentially a portion that looked at who were these at-risk students (not focusing on the online or F2F cohort, but all of the students).

As this wasn’t focused on K-12 online and blended learning, I didn’t bother to blog the session (beyond the highlights provided above in the abstract).

I did note that those that the main demographic differences between those that passed Algebra 1 compared to those that failed was that there were a higher percentage of male students that failed and a higher percentage of African American students that failed.

I also noted that students that failed algebra were suspended at a rate of more than twice as much as those that passed algebra.

Other entries from this session:

AERA 2016 – Online Algebra Credit Recovery: Characteristics of In-Class Mentor Instructional Support

As I mentioned in the entry entitled AERA 2016 and K-12 Online Learning, the 2016 annual meeting of the American Education Research Association is occurring in Washington, DC over the next few days.  That means that I will be blogging many of the sessions throughout the week.  The seventh session that I am blogging is:

Online Algebra Credit Recovery: Characteristics of In-Class Mentor Instructional Support

  • In Event: Getting At-Risk Students Back on Track: Results From a Randomized Trial of Algebra Credit Recovery

4:05 to 6:05pm, Marriott Marquis, Level Two, Marquis Salon 2

Abstract

Objectives and Theoretical Framework
Many online courses include an in-class mentor in addition to the online teacher who instructs the course virtually. Mentors are usually teachers who may or may not be certified in the same content as the online course and, in general, their role is to proctor online exams and conduct administrative classroom tasks. Mentors can also provide instructional support for students, creating more of a blended learning environment than a fully online course. The purpose of this paper is to describe the amount of instructional support mentors provided in the online classrooms in the Back on Track Study and examine the academic outcomes of students in online classes with and without instructional support from mentors. We hypothesized that students would benefit if their mentors provided more instructional support.

Methods and Data sources
For the study, 1,224 students who failed second-semester algebra in their first year of high school were randomly assigned to either the online course or a f2f class. In total, the study included 76 algebra credit recovery classes: 38 online and 38 f2f classes. The summer courses were offered at 17 participating schools during two 3-week summer sessions. The online course offered in this study included Aventa’s Algebra IB curriculum, the web-based course software, and an online teacher. As part of the study, the online course was required to have a mentor in the physical classroom, but the mentors were not required to be certified in math.

As part of the study, mentors kept a daily log of classroom activities. These logs were used to determine the amount of course time mentors spent instructing students on math content. Archived online course data recorded student performance in the course. Student experience in the credit recovery course is measured with the study administered student survey and academic outcomes are measured with an end-of-course algebra assessment and district course-taking records.

Results
Fifteen of the 38 online classrooms had mentors who spent 20% or more of the course time answering math questions; in the other 23 classrooms mentors spent less than 20% of the time providing math instruction. While grades in the online course were generally low, students in online classes with instructionally supportive mentors passed a higher percentage of attempted assessments than students who did not (55% versus 47%). Although the main impact analyses found that the online students overall were less likely to successfully recover algebra credit than students in the f2f classes (66% online versus 76% f2f), the credit recovery rate for online students with instructionally supportive mentors (77%) was higher than that for those whose mentors were not (60%) and their rates were actually similar to their counterparts in the f2f classes (77%).

Significance
This paper provides insight into mentor practices in online credit recovery classrooms and the benefit of mentor instructional support. As more students take online courses, it is important to understand the conditions that help students succeed in these courses especially if the online course is an opportunity for students to recover much-needed credit.

Authors

  • Suzanne Stachel Taylor, American Institutes for Research
  • Jordan Rickles, American Institutes for Research

Suzanne’s portion was focused on the research brief entitled “The Role of In-Person Instructional Support for Students Taking Online Credit Recovery” (see http://www.air.org/resource/role-person-instructional-support-students-taking-online-credit-recovery).

One of the tools was a log that mentor teachers kept to determine how much time during the 60 hour courses that they spent:

  • math content presented in the online course
  • math topic needed to understand Algebra 1B content

Only 15 of the mentors were described at instructionally supportive math mentors out of ## mentors (i.e., logged 12+ hours).  This group had a higher proportion that were math certified (i.e., 67% in the supportive vs. 47% in the less supportive).  Interestingly, the student demographics that fell within the classes of mentors who were instructionally supportive vs. less supportive was about the same.

Further, students who had less supportive mentors progressed further in the course, but passed fewer of the course tests and performed at a higher level than the students that had instructionally supportive mentors.  Both groups only earned about a third of the overall points in the course.

Another interesting point was that when you looked at the percentage of students that actually recovered their credit:

  • Online classes with instructional support – 77%
  • Matched F2F – 77%
  • Online classes with less support -60%
  • Matched F2F -75%

As an aside, it was disappointing that the brief did not reference the work of Niki Davis or Matt Irvin and Claire de la Varre (i.e., virtual school facilitator), Lisa Hasler Water (i.e., learning coach), Jered Borup (i.e., learning coach or virtual school mentor), Dennis Mulcahy and myself (i.e., mediating teachers), or research out of New Zealand (i.e., eDeans).  Suzanne even said that there “was little known about the role of the mentor teacher in the online credit recovery model.”  Basically, another example of folks not familiar with the K-12 online learning community and failing to build upon what is already known in the field.

Other entries from this session:

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