Introduction to Bend-La Pine Online
Bend-La Pine (BLP) is the 5th largest school district in Oregon, with 28 schools and about 18,100 students in grades K–12. The district also has a comprehensive online program, Bend-La Pine Schools Online, which serves about 3,500 students per year with the following enrollment options:
- Online courses for students who are enrolled full-time in district schools.
- Full-time online school for students who take courses from home.
- Part-time online enrollment combined with part-time homeschool.
- Part-time online enrollment combined with part-time on-site schooling for K–12.
BLP Online serves a wide variety of students who have an assortment of needs that can be met by the blended program. The following stories from three students demonstrate how success can be achieved with a personalized blended and online learning program.
Brandon*: Flexibility to Demonstrate Mastery of Content
Brandon transferred into BLP as a sophomore. Because he came from a home school background, he had no official credits. This presented a challenge for school counselors as they had no easy way to determine the appropriate classes in which to place him.
Some school leaders initially suggested that he take classes at the school to make up for his lack of credits, especially in freshman geometry and English. His parents, however, felt that “Brandon was really quite accomplished. We thought it would be a waste of time to have him take full semester-long classes because he knew the material, and besides that it would have put him farther behind because he would have had to make room in his schedule for those classes which would cause him to miss sophomore- level work while he was making up freshman credits.”
At this point, BLP blended learning leaders learned about the situation and stepped in to help. They customized online Fuel Education courses, working with teachers from the traditional school to give Brandon the opportunity to show proficiency without taking the whole class. In math, the school primarily used the quizzes and tests, while allowing Brandon to access the online course materials for the areas where he needed to refresh his understanding of the concepts. With the online materials plus some support from teachers, he passed the assessments easily. Both Brandon and his parents were relieved because he didn’t have to waste time going through parts of the course that he knew by demonstrating mastery of the content.
Brandon worked on the English and math classes for about two months to get caught up, and then combined online classes with traditional classes. The flexibility of the program allowed him to demonstrate his knowledge, and move from a situation where he was nominally behind on credits (although he knew the course content), to gaining credits and being ahead of schedule for graduation.
Luciana*: English Language Learning and Self-Pacing
Luciana enrolled in Bend’s blended program in September of 2016. She is from a Spanish-speaking family where she and her brother primarily speak English and their parents speak Spanish. Luciana’s English language skills are improving and she is conversational in English, but some of her traditional high school classes present challenges to her being taught in her second language. These challenges left her credit deficient in her core classes at the end of her freshman year (school year 2015–2016).
Initially, Luciana was put into the English language deficiency program to help her with the language. But she felt that she would be better off in a slightly different version of her core academic classes. If she could move just a bit more slowly, and learn in English and at her own pace, she felt she would be able to master the courses and improve her English proficiency in those content areas. She does both by taking online courses in the blended environment at Summit High School.
Luciana works on her blended classes every morning, and takes classes in the traditional school in the afternoon, including some electives and her English deficiency program. This combination seems to work especially well for her. The morning self-pacing, and the lack of outside distractions and pressure to speak with the other students, allows her to focus on her classes while slowing down when necessary to study the English words and phrases she is learning. This gives her additional confidence as she moves into traditional elective classes in the afternoon.
Mid-way through the 2016–2017 school year, Luciana has experienced great success. She is more comfortable in the blended learning environment, has made up her English credits from freshman year, and is on track for passing sophomore English as well.
Lydia*: Staying On Track throughout Illness
Lydia is among the many students who have been highly successful in the traditional school and also benefits from the blended program. She was a very strong student, driven to the point of being a contender for school valedictorian. Like some other students, however, she developed an eating disorder that required her to go into a residential treatment program. Lydia and her parents did not want her to fall behind in her classes. Her parents were afraid that if she was not able to keep up with her classes, Lydia’s anxiety would increase, which could worsen her eating disorder. But her treatment program was in another state, so the only way that she could continue with classes would be if she could take them online.
The school’s solution was to use the Fuel Education technology platform to allow teachers to stay in contact with her, and online instructional materials so that she could continue to make progress in her courses. When she re-entered the school, she found that she had not lost any time, and could pick up where each of her classes were. She not only graduated, but was school salutatorian.
* All student names have been changed to protect student privacy.