Success Story

Personalized Learning Supports the Transition from Middle School to High School

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Dorchester School District Two, South Carolina

About the District

25,345 students, 48.2% economically disadvantaged

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Dorchester School District Two sets a high bar for high school readiness; however, the district found that some incoming ninth graders were better prepared for high school than others. Simply passing a class in middle school was not enough for students to successfully transition to high school.

Improving the Bridge Between Eighth and Ninth Grade

Dorchester School District Two takes a comprehensive approach to preparing middle school students for the academic rigor and social challenges of high school. Rather than simply sending eighth graders off to high school and hoping for the best, Dorchester created the structure and tools to ensure students have the foundational skills and knowledge they need to successfully transition from middle school to high school.

This involves a learning process for both students and teachers. Middle school teachers become familiar with the ninth-grade curriculum so they understand the skills students need to master and the level of rigor required. In turn, ninth-grade teachers develop a clearer understanding of what students are expected to learn from the eighth-grade curriculum. Middle school and high school teachers observe each other’s classrooms, discuss how middle school standards feed into high school standards, and work together to support students during the critical transition from middle school to high school.

“We can’t wait until someone gets to high school to identify that they have not gotten the skills they need to be successful.”

Julie Kornahrens, Assistant Superintendent
Dorchester School District Two, South Carolina


Dorchester partnered with Apex Learning to provide a personalized learning experience across the district. Students now have access to high-quality digital curriculum built to state standards. Teachers can immediately identify learning gaps, provide targeted remediation, and help students build content mastery

Providing Key Skills for High School and Postsecondary Success

The rigor of Apex Learning digital curriculum ensures that students can meet state standards, as well as the expectations for the next grade. Tutorials are used in both middle school and high school; therefore, when students advance from eighth grade to ninth grade, they’re already comfortable with an online learning environment. A weekly lab rotation gives middle school students the opportunity to remediate or enrich their learning, depending on each student’s needs. Additionally, eighth grade students in English 1, Algebra 1 and Geometry are afforded the opportunity to further accelerate their learning.


Teachers are finding that students are more prepared for the next grade level. Apex Learning Tutorials foster independent learning, support differentiated practice, and help students develop the higher order thinking skills necessary for success in high school.

Teacher Support Is Critical

Dorchester has created a structured program for professional development that fosters collaboration and support among middle school and high school teachers. Teacher cohorts pair experienced teachers with their newer colleagues and high school teachers with those from the “feeder” middle schools. With better measurement tools in place, there is more consistency across grades and schools when it comes to grading and academic rigor. “It’s important to have great tools that are high quality and support teacher efforts,” said Kelly Purvis, Middle School Curriculum Coordinator.

Dorchester School District Two has partnered with Apex Learning for over seven years, starting with a program to provide intervention and credit recovery. Read the case study to learn how this program improved graduation rates and lowered dropout rates by offering more intervention options.

Programs that Drive Success

Learn more about the programs used by this school community to achieve results.


Apex Courses

Digital curricula for grade 6 through adult learners help students reach graduation goals and beyond through flexible, personalized first-time credit, credit recovery, and expanded course access.

Courses & Curriculum



Pretest-driven concept recovery to help grade 6–12 students catch up and find success in the courses they’re taking and the tests they’re preparing for.

Assessments, Supplemental & Intervention