The Virtual High School Discusses America’s STEM Challenges
VHS solution draws on expertise combining effective and
innovative teaching methods with standards and technology
Boston — Nov. 9, 2015 — Data shared by the National Math + Science Initiative indicates that only 10 percent of high school juniors and seniors nationwide took math and science Advanced Placement® exams in 2012, substantially lower than the overall 27 percent taking AP® exams that year. The group also indicates that STEM job growth outpaces the rest of the U.S. labor market, and that the U.S. will lack 3 million STEM workers by 2018. In its new paper, “STEM Education: Challenges and Solutions,” The Virtual High School (VHS, Inc.)discusses curriculum and instructional issues and identifies resolutions to some of the key challenges around access and engagement.
The paper focuses on the implementation of new standards, particularly Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and explores the value of providing access to engineering and technology across many grade levels. It also discusses the difficulties states and schools face in adopting these new standards and approaches or developing of their own subset of standards, and it explains how access to CCSS- and NGSS-aligned online STEM courses can smooth the transition for schools and districts.
VHS is well-suited to examine the benefits and potential of such a solution. As a nonprofit empowering schools with the industry’s best online learning programs, the organization offers middle and high schools one of the largest online Advanced Placement® catalogs in the nation as well as core and honors courses for accelerated students and career-oriented electives.
An example is a VHS statistics course, which uses real-world applications to introduce students to data collection, data analysis, statistical tools, and graphical displays as well as probability theory. Course activities include interpretation of social media statistics, evaluation of the economic impacts of Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina based on published data, and development and interpretation of a model that predicts shuttle mass during launch. “In addition to developing students’ data skills, the course is designed to strengthen their critical thinking skills, ability to discuss mathematical strategies and data sets, and hone their problem solving skills,” said Amy Michalowski, Dean at VHS.
Student performance in VHS courses remains strong. A study of students working in the VHS program revealed an 88 percent average student pass rate from 2012- 2014, and an 80 percent course completion rate from 2012 to 2014. Additionally, in 2014, 68 percent of VHS students that sat for an Advanced Placement® exam passed with a score of three or higher, compared to the national average of 59 percent.
About The Virtual High School, Inc.
The Virtual High School (VHS, Inc.) is an online learning pioneer. Since 1996, the nonprofit organization has set the standard for quality online education. VHS provides courses taught in global online classrooms for middle and high school students and online professional development for educators. The organization also meets the unique educational needs of schools through custom course development and individualized course offerings. VHS design and delivery standards are the model used by the National Education Association in their recommended standards for online learning. The organization has won numerous awards, including the Stockholm Challenge Award for Global Excellence in Information Technology and is a three-time winner of the United States Distance Learning Association’s (USDLA) award for Excellence in Programming and Excellence in Best Practices. For more information, visitwww.TheVirtualHighSchool.org or call (978) 897-1900.
Learn2Earn Students Log 100 Million Minutes of Reading
Brayden Charcoal from Fort Smith, Ark., makes the milestone minute and earns an e-reader
San Diego — Nov. 9, 2015 — Since the inception of the Learn2Earn platform in September 2013, hundreds of thousands of K-8 readers have been using the Whooo’s Reading program and the Reading-Raiser Read-A-Thon system to log the number of minutes they spend reading on their own. Today, Learn2Earn announced a new milestone: Brayden Charcoal of Euper Lane Elementary School in Fort Smith, Ark., has logged the 100 millionth minute of reading. Learn2Earn will celebrate this landmark moment by awarding Charcoal with a NOOK e-reader from Barnes & Noble, Inc., (NYSE:BKS). His classmates will have a reading party throw by Learn2Earn, who will supply captivating and fun reading materials.
“Having the one hundred million minute logged in little over a school year confirms that we’ve succeeded in our vision of making reading fun and engaging for students, something that educators find challenging,” said Hayley Brooks, Learn2Earn CEO and co-founder. “I’ve been personally excited about the astounding increases we have seen in our total number of minutes read as the current school year has taken off. On the weekend of September 19 alone, students logged more than 1M minutes of reading. And in all, students have logged more than 1.1M books read since the launch of Whooo’s Reading.”
Specifically designed with the motto “make sure the kids always win,” the lively Whooo’s Reading platform makes reading fun by giving students the power of choice, allowing them to read what they want while incorporating online game elements preferred by today’s digital natives.
A recent study of more than 2,700 students in grades one through five revealed that a year of consistently using the platform resulted in students significantly increasing the text complexity of the books they chose, as determined byLexile measures. The increase in text complexity was particularly pronounced for students who began the year reading books that were below-grade level difficulty. For example, the books read by struggling third-grade readers increased in text complexity by more than 300L on average while books chosen by normal to strong readers in that grade level increased by an average of 120L.
Whooo’s Reading hones students’ reading comprehension by enabling teachers to preselect prompts that give students the option of answering a Common Core-aligned questions. The platform adds a gamification element for students by awarding Wisdom Coins based on the amount of minutes logged and their answer to the comprehension question. Students then use those coins to “buy” virtual accessories from the platform’s Owl Store that are used to customize the owl avatars (called Owlvatars). Teachers grade students’ answers, provide feedback either publicly or privately, and review the reading progress for both individual students and the class as a whole. Whooo’s Reading includes a social aspect that allows students to share book recommendations as well as comment each other’s book reviews.
Learn2Earn is a young startup company focused on providing a 21st-century alternative to traditional literacy programs and school fundraising platforms. Unlike other reading or fundraising programs, their service is child-centric rather than educator-centric. That means that everything they develop is focused on benefitting the children who use it, on making reading fun, and improving specific reading and writing skills as outlined in the Common Core State Standards. In the area of fundraising, they offer something that most fundraising companies don’t: an educational platform for schools to use to raise money. Students aren’t selling; they’re improving their reading skills. For more information, visithttps://www.learn2earn.org
Curriculum Associates’ New i-Ready® Standards Mastery Offering Prepares Students for Success with New, More Rigorous Standards
i-Ready Standards Mastery provides real-time insight into students’ mastery of individual and grade-level standards and detailed instructional recommendations for teachers
NORTH BILLERICA, Mass., November 9, 2015—In response to educators’ need for detailed insight into student understanding of the new standards, Curriculum Associates has recently launched a major enhancement to the i-Ready program. i-Ready Standards Mastery allows schools and districts to get just-in-time information on students’ mastery of the standards and provides the instructional tools teachers need to address specific gaps and challenges. Built to cover Common Core standards for Reading, Language, and Mathematics, the new assessments complement the rich data offered by i-Ready Diagnostic by providing detailed information on individual standards as they are covered in the classroom.
“More than ever, schools and districts need to know if what they are doing in the classroom is working—insight into whether or not students are mastering the standards they are teaching every day. Great teachers are the first and most important piece of the puzzle, but teachers also need timely, actionable data to identify and fill those gaps,” said Rob Waldron, CEO of Curriculum Associates.
The robust feature set in i-Ready Standards Mastery was designed to prepare students for success on the new state and consortium assessments. Its rigorous assessments include a wide range of technology-enhanced items that effectively prepare students for the new assessment demands. Reports provide a simple but powerful view of students’ mastery of standards at the district, school, class, and individual student level as well as item-level analysis. Teachers are also equipped with rich instructional recommendations based on Curriculum Associates’ proven Ready and i-Ready instructional programs, providing support for remediation and re-teaching of standards.
To learn more about i-Ready Standards Mastery, visit http://www.curriculumassociates.com/products/iready/i-ready-standards-mastery.aspx.
Built for the Common Core, i-Ready combines a valid and reliable measure and personalized instruction in a single online product. The adaptive diagnostic for grades K–12 pinpoints student needs down to the sub-skill level and generates a combination of online instruction for grades K–8 and downloadable teacher-led lessons that are unique to each student’s diagnostic result, in addition to providing targeted skill instruction support through mobile apps. These individualized instructional plans are easy to understand, differentiate instruction, and support a blended learning solution. To learn more about i-Ready, visit www.i-Ready.com.
About Curriculum Associates
Founded in 1969, privately owned Curriculum Associates, LLC designs research-based print and online instructional materials, screens and assessments, and data management tools. The company’s products and outstanding customer service provide teachers and administrators with the resources necessary for teaching diverse student populations and fostering learning for all students.