Submitted by Von Moseley, Director Instructor, Apolo High School
Note: The information in this profile represents SY2012-13 unless otherwise indicated.
Apolo High School is an alternative high school located in Winlock, Wash. Its blended-learning program mostly focuses on credit recovery and dropout prevention/recovery.
Blended Learning Program
Program model: Enriched Virtual
Students are not required to be on campus every day, but they are required to spend at least two hours per week on campus. The majority of student learning is done remotely and students attend the physical school location anywhere from one to five times per week depending on their individual learning plan.
How much time do students spend on campus in this blended-learning program? How much of this time do students spend learning online or with educational software?
The amount of time students spend on campus varies depending on individualized lesson plan set up by the school and the student. Students must spend a minimum of two hours per week on campus, and the majority of students are on campus four to five days per week. Students spend almost the entirety of their educational experience online or using educational software. The only exceptions are made for students who don’t have access to a computer at home and students whom the instructor feels aren’t working well with the online curriculum. In those cases, the students are sent home with a study guide in a binder that is roughly equivalent to what they would be learning via online curriculum.
Briefly describe the offline components of this blended-learning program.
Since most of student learning is done online, there are very few offline components of this blended-learning program. Although the majority of students’ on-campus learning is completed online, the students can receive some face-to-face instruction and support from the on-campus instructor on an as-needed basis. Also, the aforementioned study guides come with reading assignments, paper-and-pencil workbook problems, and writing prompts. The school also uses offline learning packets in elective subjects such as Art and Home Economics and seniors are required to complete an exit project for graduation that includes offline components such as building a resume and a cover letter.
How does this blended-learning program fit into the rest of the students’ school day?
Students learning online are free to complete their coursework on their own time and do not take part in a regular, scheduled school day. The school does have two daily two-hour on-campus sessions and students are required to attend at least one of these two-hour sessions per week. The sessions run from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and students are usually assigned to one of the sessions as part of their individualized lesson plan. Students are allowed to attend more than one session per day if there is room for them.
What are the teachers’ roles and responsibilities in both the online and offline components of this blended-learning program?
The school only has one certified instructor, called the “director instructor,” and that instructor’s responsibilities are immense. The pivotal part of the director instructor’s job is designing the individualized student lesson plans for each student to follow as they progress through the school year. These lesson plans are unique to each student and ensure that each student is making real progress towards meeting the requirements for graduation.
The director instructor is also responsible for administrative tasks such as planning parent conferences, preparing student lesson plans, handling paperwork, and ensuring students are making progress. Additionally, this on-campus teacher provides face-to-face instruction when students struggle with the online curriculum, and is also responsible for assigning study guides to students not using the online curriculum and then meeting with those students to ensure their progress through the study guide and answer any questions about a particular lesson.
What other adults are involved in this blended-learning program (e.g., paraprofessionals, learning coaches, counselors) and what are their roles and responsibilities?
Apolo High School employs one paraprofessional who is not only responsible for supporting students who are working on their computers but also for helping file paperwork and entering transcripts and student learning plans into the database. Also, the Winlock High School guidance counselor doubles as the Apolo High School guidance counselor and works with the director instructor to determine what student lesson plans should look like based on what credits students need to earn in order to graduate.
Briefly describe the set-up of physical space for this blended-learning program.
The Apolo High School brick-and-mortar location is a two-room modular and portable classroom. One room is commonly referred to as the book room and contains a number of laptops for students to use as well as conference tables and comfortable chairs where students can work individually. The other room is known as the lab room and contains 20 desktop computers arranged in a U-shape facing the “front” of the classroom.
How are students grouped within this blended-learning program?
Every student is given a unique and individualized lesson plan on how to progress through the curriculum, so students are not grouped together in any form.
Do students have some element of control over the pacing of their learning? Are students tied to a semester-based course schedule or can they complete courses at any time? Briefly describe any requirements or benchmarks in place to ensure student progress.
Students have a lot of control over the pacing of their learning. The school doesn’t operate on a semester-based schedule and students can take a full year to complete half a semester’s work or they can complete all of the work quickly and be moved along to the next level of curriculum. There are no standard exams or tests that students are required to take. However, the online program the school uses for its curriculum does provide an estimated timetable for completing a particular lesson and gives students daily updates on whether or not they are on track with that estimation.
Describe the academic results of the program, using quantitative data where possible.
The school does not have enough students to qualify for state testing reports and the majority of students come to Apolo High School needing more than four years to graduate, which means they do not count towards the official graduation rate identified by Washington state. But the director instructor estimates that of 25 students who are considered “seniors” in any given year, 20 of those “seniors” will graduate, and that number includes many students who have been in school for longer than four years.
What have been the biggest obstacles in implementing this blended-learning program? What has needed adjustment along the way?
The director instructor feels that change happens very slowly for Apolo High School because of resistance to changes from the Winlock School District and administrative red tape that can take years to resolve. The other obstacle the school is trying to overcome is the image problem that comes with the type of students Apolo enrolls. Everyone assumes the students at Apolo are the bad students with behavioral issues, and it can be difficult to fight that stigma.