...

Blended Learning | News

Texas District Adds Blended Learning Tool To Prepare Students for Biology Assessments

The Eagle Mountain-Saginaw Independent School District (EM-S) in Texas has adopted a new tool for blended instruction in an effort to prepare high school students for end-of-course assessments in biology.

Enacted as a result of a state law passed in 2007, "The purpose of the end-of-course (EOC) assessments is to measure students’ academic performance in core high school courses and to become part of the graduation requirements beginning with the freshman class of 2011–2012," according to information on the Texas Education Agency's (TEA) Web site.

The law also requires that "assessments for lower-level courses must include questions to determine readiness for advanced coursework" and that "assessments for higher-level courses must include a series of special purpose questions to measure college readiness and the need for developmental coursework in higher education," according to TEA's site.

To help students prepare, EM-S decided to adopt Adaptive Curriculum (AC) Science, which uses 3D models, graphics, and interactive simulations in an effort to motivate learners in grades 6-12 "to explore, make hypotheses, manipulate items, and see the impact of their decisions," according to information released by Adaptive Curriculum.

"The district has always had a strong science department and curriculum, but since the EOC assessments were designed to measure readiness for advanced coursework we knew we had to up our game," said Jacqueline Garcia, K-12 science coordinator for EM-S, in a prepared statement. "Adaptive Curriculum’s Science program was approved in the state’s July 2011 Supplemental Science Materials adoption so we were pretty comfortable that it had been well-vetted. Still, we were pleasantly surprised at just how good this solution really is."

Using a modular structure, AC Science is designed to allow teachers to provide instruction for individuals, small groups, or an entire class. Garcia said that EM-S teachers are using the program, which students can log into from home or school, to introduce new concepts and to provide practice and reinforcement.

"The teachers love that it is so prescriptive, scenario based, problem based, and that it promotes deeper learning," said Garcia in a news release about the implementation. "It's also very easy to implement and integrates quite well with our existing curriculum and materials. Next year, we’re hoping to write the use of Adaptive Curriculum into our curriculum plans, as well as make it available to all our middle schools."

Serving approximately 17,000 students, EM-S comprises  three high schools, five middle schools, 14 elementary schools, an early childhood development center, and a career and technology center.

More information about the Eagle Mountain-Saginaw Independent School District is available at emsisd.com. To learn more about Adaptive Curriculum Science, visit adaptivecurriculum.com.

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is the multimedia editor for Campus Technology and THE Journal. He can be reached at jbolkan@1105media.com.

comments powered by Disqus