Classroom Technology Opinion

Alpine Advances Online and in Blended Learning

By Tom Vander Ark — January 29, 2014 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Alpine School District
, the largest in Utah, serves more than 73,000 students in 80 schools in a sprawling area south of Salt Lake City. It has among the lowest per-pupil-funding in the country, but strong academic results. The district has several partnerships with local companies resulting in school-wide improvements and
individual student success stories.

PLC improvement strategy.
Academic results were mediocre when Garrick Peterson became principal of Lakeridge Junior High.

The school is now recognized as ‘elite’ by the state. A stakeholder report monitoring
progress over the last decade shows that English proficiency rates grew from 65 percent to 95 percent. Math proficiency improved from 55 percent to 92 percent. Professional Learning
Communities (PLC) were at the heart of the data-driven improvement strategy.

Peterson now directs professional development for the district where he introduced MasteryConnect powered PLCs.
A platform for sharing assessment items, MasteryConnect Powers Solution Tree PLCs and many school and
district formative assessment systems.

When Joseph Jensen became principal of Orem Junior High in 2009, he followed the same formula and created professional learning communities and used data
to inform instruction. “He has changed the culture of Orem Junior High by using compelling data, holding everyone at the school to high expectations and
tirelessly working to improve student achievement,” said Superintendent Vernon Henshaw. Jensen was named one of the
2014 Utah Secondary Principals of the Year.

Online innovations.
The district built 50 digital courses that are delivered on BrainHoney from Agilix (headquartered in the district). Agilix
and Mastery Connect are completing an integration to support the growing number of teachers to leverage MasteryConnect content within a blended course.

East Shore Online High School
had over 14,000 course enrollments last year, its first year of operation. Most enrollments, and the associated funding, remains at their home school.
Alpine high schools provide a classroom where students can take as many online courses as they would like.

“Students come to us within a variety of contexts,” said McKay Jensen. “Many do need to make up a failed class; many are trying to make room in their
schedules for other subjects or extracurricular activities, other are simply looking for a different experience than they are getting in there traditional
classroom.” Jensen adds, “The unifying feature is that the students need an online or asynchronous option, and we are prepared to deliver that option for
students in a variety of contexts.”

Credits are awarded in 1/8 units. “Students are more likely to come away with something if the enduring record (credit on a transcript) happens earlier and
more often,” said Jensen. The micro-credits add flexibility and boosts student motivation

This helps student in a variety of contexts—remediation, acceleration, etc. It’s primary affect is in motivation—the road to the praise earned by
accomplishment is shorter, and encouragement to go a little bit further is easier to communicate because the students are generating a tangible take-away.

“We help students generate skills and credit—and the student, with help from their counselor, is able to apply those skills and credits into whatever
context the student needs,” said Jensen.

Alpine Online
is a full time K-8 school that features Rosetta Stone and K¹² World Language

The Alpine School District is a good example of a district innovating with local ed-tech partners to better serve students.

MasteryConnect is a Learn Capital Company where Tom is a partner.

Related Tags:

The opinions expressed in Vander Ark on Innovation are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Evaluating Equity to Drive District-Wide Action this School Year
Educational leaders are charged with ensuring all students receive equitable access to a high-quality education. Yet equity is more than an action. It is a lens through which we continuously review instructional practices and student
Content provided by BetterLesson

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Classroom Technology Quiz Quiz Yourself: How Much Do You Know About Online Student Engagement?
How is your district doing with online student engagement?
Classroom Technology The Future of Blended Learning: What Educators Need to Know
More than two-thirds of educators expect their use of blended learning to increase during the 2021-22 school year.
8 min read
onsr edtech blended
Classroom Technology Why School Districts Are Unprepared for COVID-19 Disruptions, Again
Bad state policy, misplaced optimism, and a focus on full-time virtual schools left districts scrambling to educate quarantined students.
11 min read
onsr edtech hybrid
Classroom Technology Opinion Some Teachers Are New to Laptop Integration. Here’s How to Manage It
Let students help set expectations and make sure both you and they know how to use the tools are just a couple suggestions educators offer.
15 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."