Submitted by Nick Torres, Chief Executive Officer
Note: The information in this profile represents SY2012-13 unless otherwise indicated.

School/organization overview

Name Education Plus Academy Cyber Charter School
Type Charter School
Locale Urban
Headquarters Wyncote, Pennsylvania (with five additional learning hub locations)
First year of operation SY2012-13
Grades served K-6
Enrollment 250
% FRL 80%
% Black or Hispanic 75%
Per-pupil funding $9,500

School/organization background

History and context 
Education Plus Academy was founded as a public option for students struggling with dyslexia. The private option costs parents $20,000 – $35,000 and there needed to be a public option that was equivalent to what was available in the private market. A blended-learning model was ideal because while the school worked with the student on reading, writing, and comprehension he/she didn’t need to fall academically behind in other subjects due to challenges in reading AND the student could use technology assisted tools to assist with his/her learning.

Blended-learning program

Name N/A
Focus Special Education
Year launched SY2012-13
Enrollment 250
Blended grades 1-6
Blended subjects Math, English Language Arts, History/Social Studies, Science
Content Compass Learning, Big Universe, Teaching Textbooks, DreamBox
SIS PowerSchool
Independent LMS ItsLearning
Independent gradebook PowerSchool
Independent assessment  MAP (NWEA)
Professional development Wilson, Schuler Phonics and Math

Program model

Program model: Individual Rotation

Model description
Teachers in the learning centers function as coaches while students learn at their individual level trough Compass Learning. Teachers work closely with children with dyslexia and do in-class small team instruction based on the reading and writing level of each student.

Program description

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?
Students can spend up to 5 days/week at a learning center. 80% of the curriculum is online. Given the realities of the educational system, students spend about 50% of their time with educational software and 50% of their time in small groups, project-based education, or physical activities (paper/pencil, arts, experiments…)

Briefly describe the offline components of this blended-learning program. 
The primary curriculum used is Compass Learning which encompasses Reading, Language Arts, Math, Science, and a little of Social Studies. The full Social Studies curriculum is online, but through Harcourt. Compass Math is supplemented with Teaching Textbooks that is also online. Subject matter is also supplemented with an online Library – Big Universe – and other educational software programs. The components that are not online include our own curriculum that teaches the foundations of reading (Orton Gillingham) and math (Schuler Math).

How does this blended-learning program fit into the rest of the students’ school day?
It’s fully integrated into each subject. Students spend a portion of each subject matter online and a portion with the teacher in small groups.

What are the teachers’ roles and responsibilities in both the online and offline components of this blended-learning program?
Teachers assume responsibilities for both and weave both together based upon the learning needs and styles of each student.

What other adults are involved in this blended-learning program (e.g., paraprofessionals, learning coaches, counselors) and what are their roles and responsibilities? 
A classroom assistant is provided to each teacher during the math and reading subject matters to help coach the students who are online while the teacher is working in small groups in a face-to-face interaction.

Briefly describe the set-up of physical space for this blended-learning program. 
It looks like a traditional classroom. Much of the traditional learning centers have been replaced with individual learning that occurs on the computer. Classrooms with older students have them working at their own desks. Classroom with younger children have them sitting in small group tables.

How are students grouped within this blended-learning program? 
Students are grouped by academic levels when they work in small groups with the teacher. Beyond the small group instruction with a teacher, they are working at their own respective academic level.

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. 
Yes, students are tied to a semester-based schedule. However, it is always a dance with the teacher as he/she both serves as a coach and provides direct instruction on concepts or content that students need. One adaptation is that we had to create a scope and sequence for the year giving just enough structure for the teachers, but allowing enough academic freedom for the students to advance at their own pace.

Describe any other distinctive characteristics of this blended-learning program if they have not been captured above.
Education Plus Academy provides both an online (educational software) and traditional (textbooks) curriculum. Each student is initially assessed at his/her academic level. The educational software, based upon the assessment, creates an individual learning path. However, the teacher must adjust this learning path based upon the student success and frustration. The teacher also must determine the balance between online vs. traditional teaching based upon each student’s learning style.

Describe the academic results of the program, using quantitative data where possible.
The students have only been tested for a baseline. They will be retested in January 2013 to determine the first trimester of progress.

Describe any financial impact this blended-learning program has had on your cost of operations. Use numbers when possible.
It’s too early to tell if there is any financial impact on the cost of operations. As the model adjusts and more adults are able to become involved in the student’s education AND the better the educational software becomes, the educational costs should be reduced significantly.

What have been the biggest obstacles in implementing this blended-learning program? What has needed adjustment along the way?
The biggest obstacle in implementing the blended-learning program is the limitations of the educational software. For example, much of the software (Compass Learning) allows a student to move forward without mastering a particular concept. This requires the teacher to constantly be monitoring what a student is doing. Another challenge is that the scope and sequence provided by the online educational software is different than the scope and sequence of the traditional curricula. Although both are mapped against core standards/anchors they don’t necessarily follow the logical scope and sequence mandated by the state. This requires the school/teacher to create their own scope and sequence and then mix and match between the online and traditional curricula. This becomes very time consuming and often defeats the purpose of the online educational software being a tool to advance the learning of the student.

Contact information

Name: Nick Torres
Title: CEO
Phone: 215-718-4250


  • ccinstitutedev