I love hearing the stories that are coming out daily about how virtual schooling is changing the face of education.
In School Reform Through Blended Learning, we are introduced to Kwame Simmons, the principal at Kramer Middle School in Washington, D.C. Given the opportunity to turn around Kramer, one of the lowest performing schools in our nation's capital, Simmons had his work cut out for him. Here are some of the statistics: 33% of the students were receiving special education,
30 % were truant, and math as well as reading scores were "deplorable." Most would just walk away. Not Simmons. He began with making changes to policies and procedures and added support for special education. Next, he "reconstituted" the staff, which means teachers had to reapply for their jobs. For the teachers who did not return to their jobs, he replaced them with people who collaboratively wanted to see the school succeed. Finally, he went in search of a program that would be a good fit for the students at Kramer.
Simmons found the Center for Talented Youth Online, a program through Johns Hopkins University. 42 students began taking some classes online, combined with face to face classes. In just two and a half months, students had improved an entire grade level or more. If that isn't exciting, do you have a pulse?! Two and half months! This is personalized learning at its best!
Next, Simmons wants to take the program school wide. The school will also be working with Adaptive Curriculum, a provider of online math and science tools. Every student will have a laptop in the 2012-2013 school year to be able to access these online lessons. In addition to Hopkins, Florida Virtual School will add support.
Simmons said they will be surveying the students to see if they are having fun, too. Saying his students have been constantly reminded of their deficits, and "that sucks," Simmons obviously believes in these kids.
Well done, Mr. Simmons. I personally can't wait to see the results next year.