Success Story: Expo Alternative Learning Center

Saturday, July 27, 2013 -- Andrea Gronberg

Expo Alternative Learning Center in Waterloo, IA was nominated as an Edmentum Rock Star School for their success with Plato Courseware in six different programs, including an alternative high school, a credit recovery program, a behavior remediation center, an 8th grade program for at-risk students, and services for behavior-related and other disabilities.  

Brenton Shavers, Principal at Expo Alternative Learning Center, recognized the need for an alternative education program to meet the growing demands of students who lack success in the traditional classroom environment.  In 2011, the Waterloo Community Schools took the novel step of converting the old McKinstry Elementary School building into a one-stop-shop for alternative education.  Hear more from Brenton Shavers below. 

Edmentum: What are the strengths of your online learning solution?

Shavers:  Plato Courseware helps support the school’s efforts at a rigorous blended learning environment by providing the online instruction for the academic curriculum.  Working online eliminates many of the in-person, classroom distractions that the students experienced in their previous schools. The smaller classes also help the students focus better on their studies and receive help when needed.

 Edmentum: Describe who you’re serving and what unique needs they have that this solution addresses?

Shavers: Expo has students all over the map, both geographically and academically. Learning abilities vary widely and so do their background knowledge gaps. A lot of students at Expo also experienced behavioral issues in the traditional classroom environment. 

Edmentum: What results can you share about the success of this implementation?

Shavers: Expo’s students at the most risk are making impressive gains of 5-10% annually in reading and science while holding steady in math on their grade 11 Iowa Tests of Educational Development.  Many students have shared that without Plato and the ability to log on whenever and wherever they wanted, none of this would have been possible.

To better meet the evolving needs of the community and its students, Expo is exploring other avenues to bring Plato's instruction to the kids, like a program in the local mall as well as a completely online virtual program to supplement Expo’s more traditional school structure in the new building.  With Plato as a partner and a new, larger building, Expo believes they are positioned to continue to serve as many students as possible.

Thank you to Brenton Shavers for sharing the success.  Read their full story here.