Tennessee county recognized for blended learning approach
- The Clayton Christensen Institute has identified the rural Putnam County School System in Tennessee with a district-wide Blended Learning Universe distinction, a more common recognition for individual schools.
- According to eSchool News, blended learning in the district began in 2008 for online credit recovery and has since expanded into the Virtual Instruction to Accentuate Learning (VITAL) program, offering dual enrollment, credit recovery, blended learning and distance learning for students in sixth through 12th grade.
- Sam Brooks, the district’s personalized learning coordinator, says disciplinary problems have dropped 50%, the graduation rate increased from 86% to almost 93%, and the need for credit recovery has plummeted because online coursework and early intervention strategies prevent it.
Blended learning offers schools the opportunity to better serve a broader range of students. When blended learning is used specifically for credit recovery, however, schools must take care to avoid certain pitfalls. Online coursework must be as rigorous as in-class work to maintain a minimum standard for passing classes and qualifying for graduation. In the Los Angeles Unified School District, credit recovery options helped boost the district’s graduation rate to a record high, but administrators are planning changes in response to criticism that the classes were too easy.
In some districts, the next generation of blended learning has become personalized learning. As in the Putnam County district, schools that use personalized learning to give kids the opportunity to learn at their own pace see a reduction in behavior issues and an increase in attendance rates.
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