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No Struggling Student Left Behind in Cleveland, TN

No Struggling Student Left Behind in Cleveland, TN
School Name and Location: 
Bradley County School District
The Challenge: 

A suburban school district outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee, decided to hand over the entire curriculum of its alternative school to Plato Courseware, as well as the credit recovery offerings at the other two high schools. With the increased rigor and benchmarking capabilities of the program, GOAL Academy experienced an almost unprecedented accomplishment.

Bradley County Schools (BCS) serves a suburban community in Cleveland, Tennessee. More than 10,000 students make up the district’s 11 elementary schools, two middle schools, two high schools, and its alternative GOAL Academy.

GOAL Academy’s principal Kyle Page explained to the local newspaper, “This school is basically divided into two different schools; one aspect of our program solely works with the students that are behind academically, and our chief purpose is to get them back to grade level or graduated. The second aspect works with behaviorally challenged students that must get a handle on the behaviors that are causing them to not be successful in the normed environment.”

BCS had been using another software solution for credit accrual and recovery at the high schools and the academy but found that it wasn’t rigorous enough to reflect the needs of college and career readiness. Some students could even pass without doing much work at all.

How They Did it: 

“We use Plato in the alternative school for credit accrual and recovery and at the high schools for credit recovery. We use [Edmentum Assessments] Test Packs to benchmark students,” explains GOAL Academy history teacher David Wilson. In fact, the academy’s entire curriculum is based on Plato Courseware.

GOAL Academy needs to be as flexible as possible. Students who find themselves there are at risk academically, socially, or even physically. Allowing them to work within a more flexible schedule from anywhere they might find themselves is key to successful progress in the program. Moreover, working outside of the school day is expected, as it facilitates the other school-based goals of the academy, like behavioral remediation.

Success: 

To say that handing over GOAL Academy’s curriculum to Plato Courseware was a good decision is an understatement. In the first year of implementation, in 2011, the academy graduated every single student who came through its doors. As the media reported, no student was left behind. The 2013 graduation rate was almost as impressive at 93.9 percent.

This success, along with the credit recovery and test preparation steps taken at the other high schools, has helped the district improve its overall graduation rate from 87.6 percent in 2011 to 89.8 percent in 2013. On Tennessee's End of Course exams, proficiency rates have jumped in most subject areas. For example, at Walker Valley High School, Algebra I scores have increased by 29 percent in two years. At Bradley Central High School, Algebra I scores have increased by 15 percent.

The Future: 

Expectations are understandably running high in BCS as it moves forward with its Edmentum products. For Wilson, the difference is in the rigor and expectations built into Plato Courseware. What’s more, for schools and districts shopping for a new online learning provider, he has some words of advice: “Consider the rigor and engagement of learners with other LMS’s [learning management systems]. Plato holds students to a high level of engagement and ensures mastery of subject matter.” With the success of GOAL Academy, demand for Plato Courseware is expected to grow. As the district scales the system to meet its needs, Edmentum will be right there to scale with it. Eventually, the goal is for no student, districtwide, to be left behind.

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