Our school opened in 2012, and we implemented virtually the same model of blended learning that we use now. We have made adjustments in the interest of helping students. For example, we have added more structure for students, particularly ninth graders, who need extra support to catch up and continue to work efficiently. This year, we piloted a testing room to serve this need. Students who did not work efficiently in the first half of the year spent time in the testing room in the latter half of the year. Students assigned to the testing room were required to work with tutors, to meet their teachers for additional support, and to complete a minimum quantity of work each day. The testing room is one change that wasn’t envisioned at the school’s founding, but that we deemed necessary as we honed our model.
Our small, close-knit staff has been a great boon. We have teachers who get together on their own time to talk in positive ways about struggling students and to figure out what they can do. These teachers are talking about changing pedagogy, rather than blaming students.
There are a lot of challenges, still. The ideal situation is one where students are excited by the opportunity to personalize learning and able to work autonomously and productively. This is, of course, not what always happens. For some reason, people don’t anticipate that some kids will lag. They think that competency-based education means that kids will go ahead and finish a high school degree in two years. We have been working to ensure that students who struggle in this environment receive the support and scaffolding that they need to grow.
I would recommend that an emerging program begin with a scaffolded model for students who are just acquiring the social and emotional skills necessary for personalized learning. It is important to provide support and structure so that students can prove to themselves that they can handle a greater degree of autonomy. Don’t expect that kids will do this right away. If you provide students with structure at the beginning, it will be an easier transition to more autonomous, personalized learning.
Innovations Early College High School provides a new and innovative learning environment for all students. Our mission is to provide a personalized education by utilizing the power and scalability of digital technology. At Innovations, students learn in their unique manner and at their own pace, working through digital curriculum housed in an LMS and receiving face-to-face support from teachers and peers. Innovations students are also able to take classes at SLCSD's traditional high schools and Career and Technical Center, and at Salt Lake Community College. In the 2017-8 school year, 11 out of 101 graduates of Innovations Early College High School graduated with an Associate's degree.
Contact: Kenneth Grover
Innovations Early College High School
1633 South Edison Street
Salt Lake City, Utah