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California “a-g” Approved Options Support Students’ Diverse Needs in Salinas, CA

California “a-g” Approved Options Support Students’ Diverse Needs in Salinas, CA
School Name and Location: 
Salinas Union High School District
The Challenge: 

In California, it can be difficult to offer online courses that meet the state’s stringent “a-g” certification process, supervised by the University of California (UC). Without approval as “a-g” compliant, an online course will not count toward a student’s graduation requirements, nor will it be accepted by the UC system, or any other accredited college.  When looking for a comprehensive solution that offered a wealth of courses with “a-g” certification, a district in Salinas found that Edmentum’s solutions checked all of the boxes.

Salinas Union High School District (UHSD) in Salinas, California, serves 15,000 students in Monterey County and adjacent counties. El Puente School, an alternative school of choice, began adopting Edmentum solutions to help promote academic success in the district.

“At the high schools, we needed to replace a limited credit recovery option that was not “a-g” compliant and offered limited choices without Advanced Placement®, career technical education, or intervention capabilities,” explained El Puente School principal August Caresani. “The middle school had never used digital content and had no effective intervention in place to help struggling students.”

With a suite of Edmentum solutions—including Plato Courseware and Edmentum Assessments, which is comprised of both adaptive and fixed-form tests—Salinas UHSD began a strategic rollout to meet these needs.

How They Did it: 

Salinas UHSD’s leaders expressed a desire for a gradual rollout of Edmentum solutions that made sure that the teachers and staff were fully prepared to use the new solutions to their full advantage. Edmentum’s trainers and account representatives facilitated that need every step of the way.

“Edmentum's implementation team worked creatively to customize training around the needs of each school and met teachers where they were when presenting training options, which included on-site large-group training, small-group on-site training, individual on-site coaching, virtual follow-up training, and on-site and virtual office hours,” Caresani said.

The staff at Salinas UHSD paired this comprehensive training plan with a targeted implementation approach. Initially, El Puente School started using Edmentum Accucess, Edmentum’s adaptive assessment for grades 5 through 12, with a small group of independent study students to assess and provide automatic prescriptions for specific learning gaps. Upon its success, the district expanded its usage to successfully implement Plato Courseware for approximately 2,000 students in a six-week summer school session that focused on the students’ varied credit recovery needs. During fall 2016, the district expanded its use of Plato Courseware to support credit recovery needs of all Salinas high schools paired with Edmentum Test Packs, Edmentum’s fixed form assessments for grades 3 through adult, and Edmentum Accucess as intervention tools to assess, identify areas of need, and provide appropriate instruction for both high school and middle school students. In January 2017, Career and Technical Education as well as Beyond High School course options were introduced.

Success: 

As of spring 2017, Edmentum solutions have been used for over 213,000 hours by Salinas UHSD students. Because of the runaway success, Caresani was asked to present at the 2017 California Consortium for Independent Study conference. He credits the district’s rapid growth and success to the systematic approach it took to program the rollout.

“Implementation strategy is key,” Caresani said. “At Salinas UHSD, we started small and built up as we learned, starting with one small site (El Puente), then increasing to summer school and, then, districtwide. We also offered many types of training options to teachers, administrators, and schools and gave them flexibility when to opt in. The early adopters and champions had strong data, which helped bring the reluctant teachers on board.”

That initial data now includes some impressive usage figures from the program’s first year of being available across the district. Since the fall of 2016, Salinas UHSD students have earned more than 12,000 credits toward graduation through their Edmentum-powered online learning program. It is a fair assumption that many of those credits went to students who were having difficulties trying to graduate on time. They are now back on track toward success!

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