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[Best Practices] How an Illinois School Leverages Edmentum Courseware for Its Summer School Program

[Best Practices] How an Illinois School Leverages Edmentum Courseware for Its Summer School Program

Summer school is sometimes tough—there’s no way around it. While most students are looking forward to a break, some students are facing the reality that they may be headed back to school. Many students may feel overwhelmed at the task of recovering credits, but Central School District 301 in Illinois has developed a set of specific and effective best practices that has resulted in students being able to work independently and build their academic skills with the goal of finishing a course.

So, how does the district do it? Central 301 focuses on staff collaboration, classroom/course/program procedures, guided notes, and overall procedure buy-in as its keys to success. Let’s look at some of these keys in detail.

Staff Collaboration and Course Alignment

Central 301 worked hard to make sure that there was consistency between its curricula and the topics the district wanted to cover in Courseware over the summer school period. For example, Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Geometry 1 and 2 courses were aligned with the Central High School course curricula. The math department collaborated with the intervention team to develop these custom courses, covering the essential curriculum of each course. The math department created unit assessments for all courses. These ensured that students were being assessed on the same essential curricula as the regular school-year course(s). To summarize, alignment and customization are key. Putting in the work upfront sets up everyone for success.

Classroom/Course/Program Procedures

Teacher-student connectedness and communication is vital. On day one of summer school, all students meet as a large group with staff to go over rules, expectations, and procedures. Educators made clear that the procedures put in place focus on the students’ role in summer school and the time commitment and effort involved.

The program concentration is in two major areas: the staff is there to help you succeed, and the goal as a group is that 100% of students earn their credits while in summer school. As a staff, they place an emphasis on creating positive relationships with the students, using motivational tactics, and celebrating success publicly!

Guided Notes

Central 301 created guided notes for algebra and english courses using a scaffolding concept. As students progress through the courses, the detail and assistance in the notes are gradually removed, and students are expected to compose self-guided notes. Early units have extensive guided notes and include a high level of content information, along with various note-taking methods, such as the Cornell system, outlines, charting, graphic organizers, concept mapping, etc. Mid units have less content information provided but still have organizational structures and essential information guidance. Late units are self-guided, independent notes that students create themselves in an attempt to emulate prior unit notes. Students are encouraged to utilize note-taking strategies learned in earlier units.

This structure provides support for all student populations. In practice:

  • Guided notes force higher-ability-level students to complete the notes prior to assessments, which, in turn, makes them work through a course rather than rush through it to complete it with minimal effort. It makes summer school “hard work,” thus lowering the chance a student may fail a future course due to having an attitude of: “It is easier in summer school.”
  • Guided notes also provide a strict structure of learning for lower-ability-level students, thus taking organizational issues and understanding and distinguishing what is essential material and other concerns out of the equation.

In addition, the following course and grading procedures are followed to support success:

  • Students are required to complete guided notes for a tutorial prior to taking mastery tests.
  • All assessments must be taken at school.
  • Students can use guided notes and mastery-test notes on all assessments.
  • Students may work at their own pace at home to complete guided notes.
  • All mastery tests are completed online. All unit tests are completed on paper.
  • If students receive 80% or higher, they may move on to next tutorial/mastery test, etc.
  • If students do not receive 80% or higher, they may choose to retake the mastery test.

What have the results of this summer school program been so far? Students’ on-task time increased to over 85%! Teachers were then free to conference with students, provide any needed individual instruction/intervention, and continuously monitor progress. Additionally, in 2017, the program bolstered a 90% completion rate aggregated from across 16 course sections.

Interested in learning more about our Courseware and how you can utilize it to support credit recovery? Check out the “credit recovery” tag on our blog!