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Design the Best Online or Blended High School Program You Can (With a Little Help)

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For years now, educators have seen the vast number of ways implementing technology in the classroom can help students, but for those who are just getting on the bandwagon, figuring out how to start can be challenging. Turning to others who have successfully used technology to establish online or blended high school programs can be a great source of help and inspiration (especially when your goal is to get students to graduation).

Your professional learning community can be great for this, and so can the stories of other educators, schools, and districts that you don’t have a personal or professional connection to. With that in mind, we’re sharing five stories of schools and districts throughout the country that utilize online or blended high school programs to help more students graduate, and the success they see from that.

Alachua County Graduation Rates Increase: After instituting an equity plan throughout the district, Florida’s Alachua County saw an increase in graduation rates, with some schools in the district graduating 100% of students. Alachua County School Board Chair Eileen Roy had this to say: “I’m very proud of our schools. Every year we just do a little bit better. We’re ahead of the state and going in the right direction.”

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36 New Graduates from El Camino High School: California’s El Camino High School offers students who are at risk of not graduating on time a different opportunity to earn their credits, while also gaining valuable real-world skills like putting together a resume. “The best reward I get from this is when the kids are successful,” says Angie Scardina, El Camino’s program director. “I tell them all the time, ‘I’m not doing anything for you except keeping the doors open. It’s all your choices and your motivation.’”

Summer Program Gives Students Second Chance at Graduation: When faced with students who needed a little more time to graduate, Florida’s Bay District Schools instituted a summer program. This program gives seniors another opportunity to earn the credits they need to graduate so they don’t have to come back to school for a fifth year. In total, 24 additional students met the graduation requirements last year and were able to move on to the next phase of their lives. “I feel successful. I feel good about myself,” summer program participant and recent graduate Shane Wellman said. “Everyone’s proud. Everyone’s feeling good. Everyone’s happy.”

Bremen’s Delta Academy Gives Students a Second Shot at a Diploma: For various reasons, many students struggle to be successful in the traditional high-school setting, which is why schools like Illinois’s Delta Academy exist. Delta Academy is designed as a credit recovery program, so students who were unable to earn the necessary credits for graduation have another opportunity to do so. Students attend 25 hours of classes a week and complete their coursework both online and through project-based learning in a café-like setting, working in space donated by a local college. The teachers are there to help guide and coach students, and are available for additional help when needed, and also to help students manage stress and anxiety so they feel safe and supported in their education.

Sacramento Academic and Vocational Academy Helps Very Vulnerable Students Succeed in High School—And Beyond: How can educators help students who seem beyond the reach of intervention and extra support? The Sacramento Academic and Vocational Academy (SAVA) believes it’s with intensive one-on-one relationships between student and teacher. Teacher and student work together to develop a customized learning program that takes into account the student’s personal schedule, needs, and goals. Another unique quality of SAVA schools is their focus on career and technical education (CTE). Students have 10 CTE pathways to choose from, and go on to complete work in at least 1 of those pathways, in addition to their academic work. And this system works—SAVA graduates 80% of its students, many of whom were at risk of dropping out of school before coming to SAVA.

For more stories featuring successful online or blended high school programs, check out parts one, two, and three, as well as our special edition on alternative programs.

About the Author


Where Learning Clicks

Since 1998, Edgenuity has been creating products and services that help all students achieve their full potential. As an extension of our efforts, we also produce Where Learning Clicks to share meaningful and timely ideas about trends, developments, and changes in education, as well as how to further incorporate technology into today’s classrooms.