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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Online learning

The Board, at their next meeting, will vote on a new Online Learning Policy.

As the Board Action Report acknowledges, "The community was not actively engaged in the development of this policy." which, to me, is reason enough to defer adopting it.

I think that it is interesting that the proposed policy says, in part, "The board directs the superintendent to provide information to parents, students and staff regarding online learning options and the guidelines for participation." yet online learning options were not mentioned in the recent Math Pathway document.

The Superintendent Procedures that accompany the policy require students to seek prior approval before taking online courses for credit. There is no assurance that the approval will be granted or even considered on a timely basis.

Has anyone had experience with WAVA (Washington Virtual Academies) and with their high school math classes?

Does anyone have any other experience to contribute to this discussion?

13 comments:

seattle citizen said...

Sooo....Provision will be made for unique learning programs and curricula for students via online learning? Might we assume that the same opportunities will be open to students in bricks-and-mortar SPS classes?
I assume that the variance from curricular alignment represented by online learning will be an across the board variance, and that teachers and students in classrooms can likewise utilize alternative learning methodologies...

WV asks: if the sub calls in sick, do we then need a subsub?

seattle citizen said...

I'm assuming that all online contractors are a) ready to MAP test; b) accountable to district for alignment; c) have a feedback loop that is tied to the Quarterly Risk Assement information of each student (MAP, WASL, attendance, grades, absences)so that they can be differentiated to meet student need and can document those differentiations; d) available to all students, no matter the cost; e) staffed by union membership
f) not for-profit companies, or non-profit companies with 150k CEOs

seattle citizen said...

OT, but the astro-turf "Our Schools Coalition has added a document to its "materials" tab: A compiliation of what different cities are doing to "collaborate" on teacher evaluation. I guess the new buzz word for "union busting" is "collaboration"

http://www.ourschoolscoalition.org/documents/EXAMPLES_OF_COLLABORATIVE_INNOVATION.pdf

seattle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
seattle said...

I think it's great to give kids as many different learning opportunities as we can. I fully support an online learning option just as I do off site learning opportunities like Running Start.

Should these alternate learning venues follow the SPS curricular alignment as kids have to in SPS buildings? I think it would be case by case. If a student were taking an online Algebra I class, I believe that class should meet all of the state GLE's and EALR's but not have to standardize their curriculm, use the Discovering text. etc.

We do not expect a community College to standardize their college class curriculum to SPS because there is a Running start student in their class so why would it be any different for online studies?

Here is the paragraph in the Nathan Hale course catalogue on outside learning (you can view it on the Nathan Hale website too)

"With pre-approval from the counselors and administration, students may take a total of 2 credits (4 semesters) of courses towards meeting graduation requirements through outside-accredited institutions. Some of these options include college enrichment, Internet courses, correspondence courses and courses at private accredited institutions. In order to qualify for meeting graduation requirements, a student must receive prior approval, in writing, from his/her counselor and the principal. A course syllabus may be required to ensure that the course meets district requirements for that subject. Approval cannot be given retroactively. Once approval has been granted, the student must complete the program within the time designated by the counselor, usually within a semester timeframe. Official verification of course completion must be submitted to the counseling office no later than two weeks after the completion of the course.
Available"

Anonymous said...

Has anyone had experience with WAVA (Washington Virtual Academies) and with their high school math classes?

I teach for WAVA High School. The curriculum and program is very rigorous. I am a highly qualified teacher and am a Union Member of the Monroe School District. I taught a number of years in the Highline School District in a traditional bricks and mortar school as well. I instruct Earth Science, Oceanography and Fine Art. Students receive kits with all the materials to do hands on lab work. They also receive art materials to do the studio projects. Students have access to online materials, content, videos, gradebook, discussions, quizzes and tests. Teachers provide live instruction via Elluminate. The sessions are recorded for students who can not attend the live sessions. During the live sessions I use power point presentations, video tutorials that I produced, web tours, desktop sharing so we can look at their class work together and many other learning activities. I think that students should have the opportunity at the high school level to do online work because they will most likely take some online courses in the future. Most community colleges and colleges offer online instruction. I have both taken online courses and taught them. I feel that while not all online learning is equal, just as not all schools or even classrooms are equal they are a valuable and enriching learning environment that our students should have access to. My son attends the Seattle Public Schools and I am a board PTA member at his high school.

seattle citizen said...

Jen, yours is an example of online learning that can benefit students (by either helping them schedule needed classes, or by allowing them to take "electives" they're interested in)

As long as this sort of system is meshed with district policy and expectations, these adjuncts to bricks and mortar can be a boon. It's only when it's co-opted for other purposes, such as to weaken or do an end-run around public schools, that it might be cause for alarm.

Rose M said...

I do not understand why SPS won't use WAVA or some other online course, when they don't have the minimum number of students for a class. Algebra 2 in 8th grade for example.

In middle school my child took some classes from University of Nebraska Independent Study High school. SPS does not count those credits toward high school graduation. But I can have a high school transcript sent from UN for those courses.

seattle citizen said...

Rose, this would be another question for discussion about online learning and ALE.
I'd guess the reason the HS credits weren't counted in MS is that SPS expects students to "start fresh" as 9th graders and earn HS credit. I think there's been discussion here about some Math credit being transferrable up to HS but I'm not sure.

Charlie Mas said...

Rose, you have to petition the Board for high school credit for courses taken in middle school. The Board will then deny them.

Although there is now a policy that allows the Board to grant the credit, and the Board says that they want to grant the credit, they won't actually do it. Moreover, the Superintendent has a procedure which has flatly denied every petition so far.

ParentofThree said...

I have enrollment papers for McClure middle school that state that Spanish I is equivalent to high school Spanish I and Spanish II = HS Spanish II. Does this mean that my student will earn the credit or just that my student will enter Spanish III in highschool? The problem with the latter is that there is only AP Spanish, and not at all schools, so there is no way for a student to have three years of a foreign language show up on their transcript if they take 2 years in middle school and do not earn the credit.

Can anybody clarify for me?

ParentofThree said...

So I am reading up on D15.00
Adopted October 2009.

Are you saying Charley that students are still not getting high school credits while in middle school because some procedure is automatically denying them when they apply for it at the district level?

seattle said...

Yes, students are still not getting HS credit for MS classes even if they are equivalent like MS Spanish I = HS Spanish I, though kids can go into Spanish II in HS.

The board has been evaluating this for several years now but as of yet has not changed the policy.

I believe we are one of the only districts that do not allow HS credit for MS work. It is state law, and from what I can tell SPS is breaking the law by not granting it.