Keeping Pace 2013 preview: Blended schools part 1

Full-time blended schools are an increasingly important category of online learning activity and one that Keeping Pace tracks in more detail in 2013 than we have in past years. Keeping Pace identifies fully blended schools as schools that:

  • Are a stand-alone school with a school code.
  • Deliver much of the school’s curriculum online.
  • Require attendance at a physical site during the school year for more than just state assessments.

Consistent with the blended learning definition that Keeping Pace uses, these schools have an element of student control over time/pace/path/place that, in one or more ways, changes the instructional model away from one-to-many (teacher-to-students) instruction and toward a personalized, data-driven approach. Some of these schools have eliminated traditional bell schedules and allow students to attend the physical school for fewer hours or at non-conventional times. Other schools follow a fairly customary schedule.

Fully blended schools are often charter schools, although they may be non-charter district schools that take a whole-school blended approach to instruction. Charter or innovation status allows schools to meet student needs with more flexibility than in a traditional school, which is particularly important when students have some control over when they come to school.

This definition does not include credit-recovery and alternative education programs within an existing brick-and-mortar school, as such data are typically not disaggregated from the larger traditional school, although they are often critical options for students. This definition also does not include schools that have blended curriculum for a department, such as the math department, or a grade level, such as all freshmen. Thousands of these examples exist around the country and are collectively serving millions of students, but the blended experience may only occur in a fraction of the school’s instructional time.

We have had extensive internal conversations about creating a blended schools category, within Evergreen and also with sponsors and program advisors. Ultimately we decided that fully blended schools are an essential category for tracking, because they are at the vanguard of education innovation.

In a post later this week we will discuss our findings further.