Online courses could help decrease school drop out rates

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News 12 This Morning/Thursday January 23, 2014

RICHMOND CO., Ga. (WRDW)--"We all know that kids need redemption. There's always going to be that one or two classes that really are a sticking point for them," said Stacey Mabray, Richmond County schools curriculum and instruction director.

That's why Richmond County began offering a summer blended program where students could make up courses that could have held them back a grade or prevented them from graduating.

"We ran a blended learning opportunity for students to actually engage the content on the computer with the support of a teacher," Mabray explained. "We had 126 students who met the challenge and we're really excited about that."

And Mabray says the results exceeded expectations.

"The courses that the students took were across the gamut. And some of them, of course, were end of course classes," she said. "Of the kids who took end of course test classes, 86 percent of them met or exceeded the standard on the end of course test, which was a phenomenal success."

That means 86 percent of those students who might have had to redo a grade or might have been unable to graduate were instead able to continue.

"We're really excited about the work the students did last summer," she said.

Seeing the high rate of success for the summer program, Mabray tells me they're looking at ways to expand this blended learning option in traditional schools.

"Our high schools and middle schools will be looking into options of offering blended learning as a bigger part of their traditional offerings," Mabray explained.

She tells me more digital options could help more students continue to succeed.

"One of the things that we try to do is create a 21st century opportunity for students. A lot of students are digitally native so they're plugged in," she said. "So there are some kids that thrive in this kind of environment where they get an opportunity to utilize the computer and work at their own pace."

Now, Mabray and other district officials are prepping to bring these ideas to the Board in February.

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