The School District of Osceola County in Central Florida serves a large and diverse suburban population of over 60,000 students. At the end of the 2007–08 school year, the district’s graduation rate was below the state average at only 67.5 percent. It was also struggling to serve a high number of fifth-year seniors and to find ways to prevent students from falling behind, particularly those students who were hospital-bound or homebound. The district needed a comprehensive, flexible credit recovery and intervention solution for its alternative programs department to help all students get back or stay on track.
During the 2008–09 school year, Osceola’s alternative programs department implemented Plato Courseware as a credit recovery solution. Students who had failed courses needed for graduation were enrolled in a computer lab program using Plato Courseware. They were assigned to the lab for one to four periods a day based on need and had to achieve an 80 percent passing rate on their courses.
“We hit the ground running,” said Beth Rattie, director of Alternative Programs for the district. “Our school board is happy, our parents are ecstatic because their kids are graduating, and 95 percent of our students are happy.”
Because of the success of this initial program, the district expanded its use of Plato Courseware and added Edmentum Assessments, which it used to create an early intervention program to catch middle school students before they need credit recovery in high school. Benchmark testing is administered for sixth grade students falling behind within the first nine weeks of the new school year. Students are then provided with content prescriptions to fill learning gaps instead of attending an elective class, allowing them to make up work while staying on track in their other classes.
The district also began using Plato Courseware courses for students who struggle to pass Florida’s End-of-Course (EOC) assessments. These students are able to take custom Plato Courseware courses that are created from the state benchmarks and test guidelines. In a computer lab, they work on the content they need to successfully retake and pass their assessments.
Additionally, Osceola expanded its use of Plato Courseware for an at-home program for hospital-bound and homebound students that provides certified teachers and custom courses. The courses are aligned to district pacing guides,and teachers monitor students’ progress with scheduled home visits once a month. The program allows students to be in constant contact with their teachers, and if additional help is needed, teachers will make an extra at-home visit for support.
Osceola has seen great success with all of the Edmentum programs it has implemented.When the district began the Plato Courseware credit recovery program in the 2008–09 school year, it helped 400 students graduate and allowed over 2,000 credits to be earned. Just three years later, in the 2010–11 school year, the program produced 1,045 graduates with over 4,100 credits earned.
Initially, the Osceola County School Board was hesitant about investing in the program, but early results were too impressive to pass up. “Last year, when we gave them the results, it was like, ‘Oh my goodness!’ The success was phenomenal,” raved Rattie.
As of 2014, the credit recovery program has helped over 3,500 students graduate, earning a total of more than 13,000 credits. The district’s graduation rate has also climbed above the state average. Before Osceola’s credit recovery program began in 2008–09, its graduation rate stood at 67.5 percent. By the following year, it climbed to 79.2 percent. The district has been able to maintain this improvement, reporting a graduation rate of 78 percent for the 2013–14 school year, which continues to be higher than the state average of 76.1 percent.
Osceola’s additional programs for early intervention, end-of-course preparation, and hospital program that utilizes Edmentum Assessments has also produced equally impressive results in preventing many students from falling behind. Of the sixth graders receiving help through that program, 70 percent have been able to get back on track. The EOC assessment preparation utilizing Plato Courseware has increased the passing rate for Algebra EOC by 10 percent in the 2012–13 school year and showed a 40 percent passing rate for Algebra EOC in the 2013–14 school year. The hospital-bound and homebound program has also helped more than 200 students each year remain engaged in their classwork.
The district will continue to find new ways to use Edmentum solutions to help improve its students’ academic achievements.Meanwhile, Rattie appreciates the program’s impact upon the district and the seriousness of what it means for students to step out from the shadows, to take control of their learning, and to shine again once more.
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