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4 Steps to Establish a Successful Online Learning Program

October 04, 2019
Online Learning Program

The population of students nationwide who are performing below grade level is staggering. Nationally, 65 percent of eighth graders score below proficient in reading and 67 percent score below proficient in math. Students who are not working at grade level in eighth grade English language arts or math have a 25 percent chance of catching up by 12th grade.

Despite the best efforts of teachers and administrators, it is challenging to address the wide range of needs required to support each struggling student. Successfully supporting these students will have an enormous impact on absenteeism, grade-level proficiency, graduation rate, and college and career readiness.

Many districts employ well-devised online learning strategies to unlock success for struggling students and to differentiate support to help them make progress toward meeting grade level expectations. Successful districts follow a continuous improvement cycle to monitor and evaluate progress toward goals, contributing to ongoing program success and improved student outcomes. Below we’ve outlined four steps to ensure the effectiveness of your digital learning program:

1) Plan: Define measurable goals and outcomes. The first step in any digital curriculum implementation is to outline a vision and programmatic goals. It’s important to involve administrators and teachers in the design process and to allow teachers to preview assessment and instructional resources to validate standards alignment, rigor, and quality. 

Secondly, identifying specific outcomes that will be measured will allow you to evaluate the program’s success over time. For example, one outcome could be to increase the number of seventh grade students who score proficient or above on the seventh-grade math assessment by 10 percent.

Prior to implementation, pay special attention to the instructional design to ensure teachers can achieve defined goals within specific student populations. A plan should include a clear vision with measurable short and long-term academic goals and a timeline of implementation benchmarks and how to gain buy-in from community members and stakeholders. 

2) Prepare: Communicate the vision and resources. Prior to the program’s launch, it’s important to clearly communicate the purpose of the implementation with all stakeholders, articulating the academic challenges that will be addressed and the positive impact the program will have on student outcomes. The next step would be to finalize the master schedule, providing staff development and fulfilling technology needs as well as communicating the program guidelines, staff roles and responsibilities, participation requirements, and the metrics that will be tracked to measure the program’s impact.

3) Develop: Instructional and administrative capacity. After the initial launch, monitor and respond to progress and performance, and provide staff with opportunities to meet to work through challenges and to share best practices. Many teachers also benefit from peer observation and in-classroom coaching and mentoring opportunities. Administrators should observe classrooms and speak to students and teachers to understand what’s working, what’s not and make these adjustments along the way to ensure success.

4) Evaluate: Assess results and optimize. The goals and outcomes metrics established prior to launch are essential to evaluating the program’s success. Consider ways to optimize your program after reviewing performance metrics and talking with teachers and students to gather input about obstacles they have faced and how they were resolved.


How Apex Learning Can Help

Apex Learning is committed to helping districts launch and maintain successful online curriculum programs. Apex Learning services are designed and coordinated by a dedicated Implementation Success Manager in alignment with a district’s implementation strategy. These educators are experts in leveraging digital curriculum and are committed to helping you launch an implementation and ensuring the ongoing success of your programs. To learn more, visit:

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