The popularity of homeschooling and independent study has grown exponentially in the last decade for diverse reasons, including from the ability to customize curricula to supporting a student’s unique needs. However, these methods of learning are not without their own challenges.
The Pacific Charter Institute (PCI) in Sacramento, California, supports independent and homeschool study through a network of four programs that provide weekly targeted instruction, along with access to the materials and lessons students need to make progress outside of the centers.
PCI serves more than 2,700 students in grades K–12 with wide-ranging abilities, situations, and goals. Its commitment to individualized instruction means that its partners must provide a broad scope of offerings for students.
“The overall education model for all PCI schools is embracing independent study or homeschooling as our learning conduit,” explained PCI Learning Analyst Mike Reid. “Edmentum's programs fit the need we had by ensuring we had supplemental learning that was standards-based, could identify learning gaps, and/or stand alone.”
While PCI’s four campuses serve different student populations, each campus offers some commonalities in approach. At the Valley View Charter prep campus, students meet with an academic advisor once a week to identify where their learning gaps lie and tweak their individualized learning paths in ELA and mathematics moving forward. Some students are also assigned to groups that use Study Island as targeted intervention. These students work within the program for 20 minutes a day, three times a week. Additionally, all learners have the ability to teleconference with live classes and instructors for additional support as needed. Data gathered from students’ time studying individually plays a paramount role in interactions within their group instruction.
“We aren't guessing what a student's capability on performance standards is,” said Reid. “The data provided allows us to have knowledge of how a student should perform on accountability measures or state-mandated testing.”
PCI’s Edmentum programs are referred to as its “Suite of Learning Options.” One of those, Edmentum Courseware, helps students recover credits and graduate with their cohorts. For K–8 students, Study Island identifies learning gaps, particularly those operating under the 33rd percentile. For homeschooled elementary students, Reading Eggs has become invaluable in setting an early foundation in literacy. Reading Eggs and Study Island also helped PCI reclassify roughly 12 percent of its ELL population over the past three years.
In the 2016–17 school year, Pacific Charter Institute’s Heritage Peak Charter School campus raised its graduation rate 22 percent and increased its English language learner progress measure by 15 percent to a status that California considers “very high.” That ELL statistic echoes across PCI schools.
Meanwhile, elementary and middle school student success is also trending upward. At the Rio Valley Charter School campus, English language arts proficiency increased 22 percent, and math increased 13 percent in the 2016–17 school year.
“I think it really shows what an impact Edmentum has had as a supplemental support and tier 1 intervention program,” said Reid. “A school that did not use Reading Eggs with as much as intensity as they previously did drop 20% in their SBAC results. That should be a testament to what Reading Eggs can do for your students.”