In 2014, Loving Municipal Schools elected to review their current digital curriculum provider due to a plethora of issues around student performance and program implementation. Students didn’t find the material engaging and weren’t motivated. In addition, the district needed to address the challenge of a regional teacher shortage that made it difficult to find qualified, bilingual teachers for AP® Spanish.
Loving Municipal Schools had specific goals outlined in their strategic plan and needed a digital curriculum that could help the district reach them. Specifically, they were looking for:
- Personalized learning that enabled students to work at an individualized pace while challenging them to excel.
- High-quality and engaging instruction to keep students motivated.
- Options for offering a Spanish AP course despite the shortage of bilingual teachers as well as support AP teachers in other subjects.
The district partnered with Apex Learning to offer digital curriculum with a higher level of rigor and engagement than the previous provider. Educators can provide immediate personalized intervention, as well as support a wide range of student needs, including credit recovery and core foundations classes for students with special needs. AP Spanish students can access high-quality content with supports and scaffolds that fill learning gaps and prepare students for challenging coursework.
The district's structured program for blended and virtual learning has helped more students increase achievement. 100% of students taking AP Spanish received qualifying scores in 2018, up from 75% in 2016.
When Loving Municipal Schools switched to Apex Learning in 2014, the district started with credit recovery but realized that they could do much more. “[Apex] is so much more robust than that,” said Superintendent Lee White. They didn’t want digital curriculum that would essentially be a credit mill—they wanted the education their students received to be meaningful. “We use our small school advantage to make sure each student receives a personalized education and ensure that no student is overlooked,” said Superintendent White.
Loving Municipal Schools uses Apex Learning to meet the needs of struggling students in both middle school and high school. Summer school programs provide remediation and help students fill learning gaps, specifically math and
reading for middle school students and credit recovery for high school students.
ELL students with a high level of academic language proficiency in Spanish can take AP Spanish to fulfill one of the state-mandated graduation requirements: one honors class, one AP class, one dual credit class, or one online class. Taking AP Spanish also helps ELL students with other classes, prepares them for standardized assessments, and generally promotes academic growth. The success of the AP Spanish students has motivated other teachers to use Apex Learning AP test prep and courses.
Strategies for Success
Superintendent White worked with his team to put in place specific strategies for the use of Apex Learning digital curriculum:
Strategy #1: Assign a highly qualified facilitator
The facilitator is key to successfully implementing a digital learning program.
Strategy #2: Implement stringent classroom practices
Ensure that students understand what is expected of them and how they must conduct themselves. The facilitator should have the students take the pre-assessment to identify their strengths and weaknesses for a set of standards. Superintendent White emphasizes that “defining the rules and policies within the classroom will help determine the overall success of your program and, ultimately, its viability!”
Strategy #3: Students must complete every task within each unit
For students to successfully progress through the course, they must complete the reading, practice problems, writing, and post-unit test. This is a key point that, if overlooked, leads to a student who is unable to master the skills necessary for grade advancement. The facilitator should be adept at managing instruction so that students move through the content as needed—students can’t skip material unless they’ve demonstrated mastery.
Strategy #4: Students must actively take notes
Another meaningful task for students is to actively take notes on the reading (similar in nature to Cornell Note process) within each unit. These notes help the students further comprehend the key points, vocabulary, and passages.