About KIPP Empower
KEA was originally slated to open its doors with five kindergarten classes of 20 students each in order to qualify for state Class-Size Reduction (CSR) funding. However, when the CSR program was discontinued for new and expanding charter schools, KEA lost out on hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential revenue over time. As a result, it began operating its kindergarten with four classrooms of 28-30 students each.
Turning to blended learning – and Education Elements
School leader Mike Kerr was committed to preserving the kind of small-group instruction that was core to his school model, and turned to Education Elements to design a “blended” approach to learning that would combine online content and assessments with teacher-led instruction. Taking into account the school’s student, staff, facility and technology needs, Education Elements helped KEA design a “rotation” model in which students rotate on and off their classroom’s 15 computers throughout each school day.
On the computers, students use Education Elements’ hybrid learning management system to easily access adaptive online content from a range of software providers, including iStation for reading, Compass Learning for math, and Learning.com for technology. Off the computers, students receive small-group and individualized instruction from classroom teachers, who regularly use Education Elements’ system to monitor student progress across all software programs, identify gaps by standard and by student, and differentiate instruction accordingly.
Results and future work
One year in, it appears the model is achieving results as strong as KIPP schools across the country are known for: just 9% of KEA kindergarteners were reading at an advanced or proficient level at the start of the school year, but 96% were doing so by the end of the school year, as measured by the STEP literacy assessment. Similarly, on the SAT-10 test, 96% of students were performing at or above the national average in both reading and math. What’s more, the blend of online learning with small group instruction allowed KIPP Empower students to accelerate beyond kindergarten instruction: 30% of students were reading at a 1st or 2nd grade level at the end of kindergarten.
In the 2011-2012 school year, KIPP Empower Academy will be expanding the blended learning model into first grade, and working with Education Elements on enhancements to the hybrid learning management system’s teacher dashboard, including expanded analytics, online lesson recommendations, and greater online assessment functionality.
Learn more: www.kippempower.org