Malden High School (MHS) in Malden, Massachusetts, is the 17th most diverse school in the country, with considerable populations of foreign-born and English-learning students who come to school with a wide range of abilities and educational experiences.
Because of this, MHS saw some students who were falling through the cracks without a way to help them catch up with their cohorts. Many needed to recover credits. Others found themselves homebound for a variety of reasons. But, with so many factors in play, differentiation was difficult.
“Like other schools around the country, we’ve seen a huge uptick in students with socio-emotional difficulties that often keep them out of their assigned classes,” said Chris Mastrangelo, MHS principal.
The school’s solution was to offer an online alternative program that would enable students to catch up on missing credits or stay on track, no matter where they found themselves.
In one of the most diverse schools in the country, students walk through the door with a wide range of abilities, backgrounds, and interests. In that situation, you would think flexibility and differentiation would be difficult. Not so! Malden High School in Massachusetts is helping students stay on track through Courseware.
How They Did it:
Originally, MHS’ implementation of Courseware was supposed to be limited to the school’s alternative outreach program, yet its popularity continued to grow until it was offered schoolwide and, finally, in summer school.
“We actually had to establish new protocols on how Courseware was assigned to students because it was so popular among students, teachers, and the guidance department,” said Mastrangelo.
That level of engagement comes from diverse course offerings and multifaceted content. In particular, the students at MHS enjoy the activities within learning units that call for them to perform their own research in order to complete the tasks.
Key to the success of MHS’ program is its accessibility. Students from divergent backgrounds and situations have all benefited, whether they find themselves at home, in the hospital, or overseas visiting family during the summer.
“We had one student out on long-term suspension for a semester,” recalled Mastrangelo. “Because of [Courseware], he actually accumulated more credits while out than he would have if he was in attendance.”
MHS was also an early adopter of the 1:1 device ratio for students, so now every student can access Courseware with a minimal amount of hassle.
We actually had to establish new protocols on how Courseware was assigned to students because it was so popular among students, teachers, and the guidance department.
2018 marks the eighth year of MHS’ use of Courseware, with 80 students enrolled in the summer school program. Over that time, graduation rates have steadily increased by an average of a percentage point per year.
“Going into Memorial Day weekend, one student found herself behind and unable to graduate with her peers,” reported Mastrangelo. “She worked through Courseware for a total of 45 hours over one week’s span. She graduated the next Sunday.”
We had one student out on long-term suspension for a semester. Because of [Courseware], he actually accumulated more credits while out than he would have if he was in attendance.
As popular as the implementation is, Malden High School is only offering half of the courses possible through Courseware. MHS is investigating adding to its collection.
“The flexibility within the courses is huge,” said Ron Janowicz, MHS Pathways program manager. “We’ve only had to design three or four courses from scratch.”
In light of demographic shifts, the school also expects Courseware to play a key role in future ELL supplemental measures throughout the district.