The mission of the Newport School District is to educate students to be responsible, motivated citizens who will contribute to the betterment of the local and global community and become lifelong learners, successfully coping with the changing world.
As a small, rural district, there are particular challenges that Newport SD faces in ensuring that every learner can be successful. About 50 percent of the district’s student population receives free or reduced lunch and 30 percent is on an Individualized Education Program, which means that Newport SD faces some of the same challenges as many larger, urban districts. It is also struggling to provide the types of options that larger school districts are able to offer, and has been losing enrollments to charter schools and larger districts. To overcome these challenges, Newport SD began leveraging technology to provide some of the same resources usually only available to larger districts.
A diverse population—geographically, demographically, and academically— requires a multifaceted approach, which is exactly what Newport SD took on when it partnered with Edmentum. The district started its program small in 2008 with only 10 Plato Courseware licenses in Newport High School. After seeing success, it decided to expand to a 1:1 program for all high school students. All freshmen are assigned a new laptop that follows them throughout high school. After four years, the laptops are replaced with new ones. Newport High School offers a fully virtual program, a dual enrollment program, and a blended program where students take some classes at home and some onsite. Using online courseware from Plato Courseware helps the district offer more courses without requiring additional staff.
Newport Middle School uses a cart of laptops paired with Study Island to boost standards mastery and help with remediation. Students in Newport Elementary School use iPad® mobile digital devices with Edmentum’s Reading Eggs and EducationCity in a station model. They are grouped by ability so that teachers can work with one group of students with similar strengths or weaknesses, while other students learn concepts at another station.
Superintendent Ryan Neuhard stated, “Whether students are falling behind, at grade level or advanced by implementing Edmentum, the district is accommodating the unique needs of the students.”
Neuhard also credited the success of the program to detailed planning and many professional development opportunities. “One of the biggest keys to our successful program was to provide lots of professional development opportunities for our staff to get comfortable and become experts with the technology and curriculum,” said Neuhard. The district incorporated services from Edmentum and from its local intermediary unit to put together a comprehensive development program for its staff.
The district has seen notable success with its blended learning implementations. Newport High School’s Pennsylvania School Performance Profile (SPP) went from a score upwards of 70 percent in the 2011–12 school year to 86 percent in the 2012–13 school year. The graduation rate also improved from 84 percent to 91 percent in the same timeframe. Newport Middle School saw improvement on the SPP as well, moving from 70 percent in the 2011–12 school year to 84 percent in the 2012–13 school year. Additionally, Newport SD is starting to see students who left for charter schools return to the district because of the new technology and course offerings.
Newport SD has found the flexibility of Edmentum solutions to be the key to improving student achievement. Because of the success the district has found by partnering with Edmentum, it has been able to develop its program with sustainability in mind. Since 2008, Newport SD has received a significant amount of Title I funding to support its blended learning and 1:1 programs. However, the district has also planned for ways to maintain the program, with backup plans that will allow it to continue its initiatives in the event that funding is reduced in the future.
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