Blended Learning

Piedmont City Schools Implements Blended Learning Program

Piedmont City School District in Alabama has implemented a blended learning program at its middle school in an effort to provide students with mastery-based personalized learning.

In 2009, the district implemented a 1-to-1 laptop initiative for its students in grades 4-12. When the district realized that many students didn't have access to the Internet at home, the district superintendent, Matt Akin, received a grant to implement city-wide wireless Internet access. With the 1-to-1 laptop program and city-wide Internet in place, the district took the next step of implementing personalized learning to allow the students to work through the school curriculum at their own pace based on their mastery of material.

The district received a grant from Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) to plan for the implementation of a personalized learning program. During the 2013-14 school year, the district worked with Education Elements, an organization that consults with districts to design and implement personalized learning. The district and Education Elements spent the year designing the program, training teachers and selecting digital learning content. In August 2014, the program went live with the help of an NGLC Breakthrough grant to implement the personalized learning program over the next three years.

Since the beginning of this school year, students at Piedmont Middle School have been working through the curriculum at their own pace. The school plans to continue refining the personalized learning program to achieve a true mastery-based learning model and to incorporate new opportunities for students into the class schedule.

According to information from Education Elements, the students' scores on the Fall to Winter NWEA (Northwest Evaluation Association) assessments have shown improvement. "In every grade level in reading students grew at least 50 percent more than the national norm expectations for growth," stated a news release from the company. The company also reported that sixth grade math scores increased 30 percent more than expected.

Piedmont City School District serves 1,200 students at one elementary, one middle and one high school in rural Alabama.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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