In its new series, “Research: Outcomes of Blended/Online Learning Programs,” the Evergreen Education Group takes an in-depth look at successful blended and online programs across the nation to examine the best practices that have created tangible results. We are pleased to share with you some highlights from the Carver Military Academy case study.
Blended Learning Success
Carver Military Academy, a Chicago Public School (CPS), celebrated a 100 percent graduation rate in 2015. Before implementing FuelEd online curriculum, only 50 percent of the Carver Military Academy cadets (students) graduated. Major Rouse, Carver’s principal, states that “year after year this program [Carver blended learning program with FuelEd curriculum] has gotten better for us. CPS measures us on many things, including graduation rate, college enrollment, and college persistence. Since we integrated FuelEd into our curriculum, it has produced significant improvements in all three metrics.” In addition to these metrics, more than $4 million in college scholarships have been awarded to graduating seniors and one student won a Gates Scholarship.
CPS recently rated Carver as a Level 1 school, which is one of the highest ratings a school can earn. The three metrics that Major Rouse pointed to are the factors that go into this rating and are as follows in the chart below:
The Carver Military Academy Story
In 2007, Carver Military Academy was the first public high school to become a public military academy with the mission “to provide cadets with a rigorous, inquiry-based, college preparatory curriculum that creates lifelong learners.” The academy consists of four parts: instruction, JROTC training, sports and fitness, and service learning.
To enroll at Carver, a student must meet several entrance criteria for potential cadets, including a combined percentile of at least 48 in reading and math on the 7th grade NWEA MAP (Northwest Evaluation Association Measures of Academic Progress). Carver candidates must also attend an Information Session, sign a Commitment Agreement, complete a Motivation and Perseverance Assessment, and write a brief essay.
"If CPS ever stopped buying this product [FuelEd courses], I would pay for it out of the school’s budget."
Carver Military Academy
Once accepted, students enter a school that is run as a military institution where they wear uniforms, receive military discipline if they misbehave (pushups and marching), and participate in JROTC training all four years they attend the academy. Carver Military Academy began using FuelEd courses soon after they opened. Prior to using this, Carver instructors were teaching classroom-based credit recovery courses after school and that “was disastrous,” notes Major Rouse, “because it conflicted with sports activities and created transportation problems for students and their families.”
Methods for Success
Major Rouse believes that the FuelEd program is working well for students and the school in three ways:
- It helps students get back on track to graduate and, consequently, improves the school’s graduation rate.
- It provides original credit course options for students, thereby keeping them in Carver (which is a school of choice).
- It is safer for students to take courses during normal school day hours rather than after school or over the summer—which exposes them to traveling after dark, or possibly commuting to schools or areas of the city they do not know well.
Major Rouse is so confident in his school’s program that he states, “I’m planning to increase the number of original credit courses offered next year and, if CPS ever stopped buying this product, I would pay for it out of the school’s budget.”
Academy instruction includes traditional face-to-face classes, Advanced Placement® classes, and FuelEd online courses. The FuelEd courses include both original credit courses (which students take for first-time credit) and credit recovery courses (to gain credit for previously failed courses).
FuelEd teachers, certified in the state of Illinois, teach the credit recovery and original credit courses and are the teachers of record for all online courses. The FuelEd credit recovery instruction helps students focus on the concepts they misunderstood as it uses a diagnostic driven model with unit-level assessments that measures students’ mastery of critical concepts.
Cadets sometimes study their online courses during a class period, as part of their normal daily schedule. For that class period, cadets use the school media center. If cadets’ class schedules do not accommodate an online instruction period, they study their online courses off-campus, typically at home.
Major Rouse comments, “We used to think we had to select the ‘right’ students for these online course, but that’s not really the case. We are putting all sorts of students in these courses, and they are being successful.”