District 49 is committed to providing families a wide range of school options. The iConnect Zone encompasses the choice school options, to include blended learning opportunities. In 2009, Falcon Virtual Academy opened with the intention of serving students in a full-virtual model. Since that time, the school name has changed to Springs Studio for Academic Excellence and the approach has shifted from Full Virtual to an Enriched Virtual model. Moving to a blended approach was necessary after learning the pitfalls of educating students without having personal contact on a regular basis. The administration and staff members recognized they could better serve students at a facility that promotes flexibility yet allows for the development of independent learning in a supported environment. The lessons learned led to the development and deployment of two additional blended learning environments. Patriot High School utilizes a Rotation blended learning model to serve at risk students on an Alternative Education Campus. Pikes Peak Early College capitalizes on a Flex blended model.
The Blended learning team is led in part by the iConnect Zone Superintendent, Andy Franko and the Executive Principal of Pikes Peak Early College, David Knoche. In addition to the oversight leadership provided by Franko and the "on the ground" leadership provided by Knoche, the iSolutions team supports development, deployment, and evaluation of strategies. Currently the iSolutions Team consists of the Solutions Manager, Jim Bonavita, and Instructional Coach Rochelle Kolhouse.
One measure used to determine the viability of learning taking place at each school is the Colorado state rubric known as the School Performance Framework. The tool measures student achievement, student growth, and postsecondary workforce readiness. Each element contributes to an overall score which is indicated in the plan type rating, the school then uses it to develop its improvement plan. The plan types range from Performance to Turnaround. Currently, Springs Studio for Academic Excellence is a Performance rated school. Patriot High School is on an Improvement plan, but results have not yet been determined since the implementation of the blended learning structures and reading intervention. Pikes Peak Early College has not yet been evaluated under the SPF system. Internal data indicates PPEC students are out performing the district on ACT Aspire interim measure.
D49 and the iConnect Zone have been leading the way in blended learning since 2009.
Focus Areas: Personalized / Competency-based PD, Competency-based learning