Fullerton Joint Union High School District, California
Updated content standards for health education took effect in California in 2016, requiring all districts to provide a health course at least once in middle school and once in high school. Schools are now faced with the challenge of fitting an extra course into students’ already packed schedules and ensuring that their health courses are properly aligned to standards.
Fullerton Joint UHSD offers online learning to students through the iSierra Online Academy, so they already had the infrastructure in place to offer the new health course online. Since 2010, the district has partnered with Apex Learning to develop courses that challenge students, enrich learning, and meet standards. The district approached their summer health course as an opportunity to help incoming freshmen transition to high school, and start completing graduation requirements before school even began. They offered the two-week course through their existing online academy and expanded the successful partnership with Apex Learning that began in 2010.
The program was implemented to offer the two-week course in seven waves. Students who couldn’t complete the course in two weeks could continue where they left off in the next wave, without having to start from the beginning again. Teachers were given virtual and in-person training, and had continuing support from Lisa Valdes, the Online Learning Department Chair of iSierra Online Academy.
While the Health course fulfills the new California Healthy Youth Act standards, the course also provides students with a unique online learning experience. “Students are used to being passive and waiting to be told what the answer is,” shared Valdes. “The online health program pushes these soon-to-be high schoolers out of their comfort zones and starts to teach them how to problem solve and take ownership of their learning.” It was a good opportunity for students to practice online learning skills such as taking exams, interacting with teachers and other students, submitting assignments, and other tasks needed to excel in high school, college, and the workplace.
74% of ninth graders completed the health course. Administrators were impressed with the completion rates and how well the program worked; as a result, they have decided to offer the course again during summer 2017.
The California Healthy Youth Act standards are very specific. We wanted to make sure the course we offered really addressed them so we worked with Apex Learning to build a course directly based on the standards.
Online Learning Department Chair, iSierra Online Academy