Hybrid Classes Outlearn Traditional Classes

Students in hybrid classrooms outperformed their peers in traditional classes in all grades and subjects, according to the newest study from two organizations that work with schools in establishing hybrid instruction. According to the 2013-2014 "Hybrid Learning Program Results," from Hybrid Learning Institute and Dellicker Strategies, more than nine out of 10 schools using a hybrid learning program reported higher academic performance on standardized tests compared to traditional classrooms in the same school district or state benchmarks.

Made up of a group of teachers, administrators and subject matter experts, the Institute helps educators use personalized learning tools and techniques to improve academic performance. Last year, it worked with more than 8,000 students. Dellicker is the institute's lead consultant.

The work, which started in Pennsylvania and has since expanded to other states, focuses on building an inter-district support infrastructure to help schools plan, launch and deliver hybrid instruction and pursue continuous improvement based on data analysis.

The hybrid learning model combines direct teacher instruction, group activities and self-instruction through digital content and has six "defining characteristics":

  • The use of a blended classroom system;
  • Students rotate among different learning stations;
  • Instruction is delivered in small groups;
  • Students take frequent digital assessments;
  • Educators use student information to differentiate instruction; and
  • The personalized learning is considered "cost-effective."

The results come out of those classes where students either took the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) tests or Keystone Exams to measure academic achievement. Seven districts representing 14 schools were able to compare standardized test results between students in the hybrid classrooms and those in non-hybrid classrooms.

In one example, hybrid learning eighth grade math students at Hatboro-Horsham School District (PA) passed the PSSA tests and Keystone Exams at a rate10 percent higher than their non-hybrid peers in five schools.

In another example, third grade math students in the hybrid learning program at Pennsylvania's Indiana Area School District outperformed students in traditional classes by 10 percentage points on the PSSA exams.

Reflecting the emphasis on continuous improvement, the report noted that students at a hybrid-dedicated school, Spring City Elementary Hybrid Learning School (PA), scored proficient or advanced on PSSA tests at a rate 23 percent higher than the previous year with gains in all subjects: reading (up 20 percent), math (up 24 percent) and science (up 27 percent).

"We use a rigorous accountability system that helps us measure and report on hybrid classroom outcomes," said Dellicker President and CEO Kevin Dellicker. "Our Hybrid Learning Institute provides the training and resources teachers need to implement a blended learning classroom and ultimately succeed with this innovative approach to teaching and learning."

The cost of implementing hybrid learning through the Institute's model could be considered modest. During the 2013-2014 school year, according to the report, the schools spent an average of $220 per student (not including computing devices) to transform their learning models.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.