Poudre School District (PSD) Global Academy, CO - 2014 Transformation Award Winner

Mary Kate Appel

Transformation Award Winner: For being the first comprehensive, blended school to achieve among the highest growth scores in the state of Colorado.

The Poudre School District (PSD) Global Academy blended learning program brings together the best of both worlds for students—schedule flexibility and the ability to work at your own pace while taking online courses at home, plus oncampus instruction and activities.

Originally launched in 2009 as an online school for grades 6–12, the PSD Global Academy has evolved over the last six years to incorporate all grades levels from kindergarten through twelfth; on-site staff; blended learning courses using a variety of instructional and support strategies; and a hybrid schedule. Through what Principal Heather Hiebsch calls “structured flexibility,” students participate in FuelEd Online Courses or the K12 curriculum at home three days per week, and attend class on campus with their teachers and classmates two days per week.

Students work at their own pace during the days they are at home. When they come to the Academy, they benefit from direct instruction, hands-on labs, group projects, advisory sessions, community clubs, and events.

Instruction is rigorous both on campus and at home. Teachers focus on differentiating instruction to individualize learning, as well as teaching non-cognitive skills to improve student success. In order to increase the partnership between parents and classroom teachers, parents must attend a Learning Coach professional development series, participate in the Learning Coach mentorship program, and complete a week of activities called Orientation Jump Start.

Academic and behavior interventions are developed by a cross-functional Student Support Team and include strategies that are implemented both at home and on campus. Student growth is monitored constantly through online and oncampus formative and summative assessments. Each student has an individualized learning plan that is modified throughout the year.

Based on state test scores from the 2013–2014 academic year, PSD Global Academy is among the highest performing schools for all Colorado schools—online, blended, and traditional schools in the public, private, and charter sectors—and all grade levels. PSD’s elementary reading and math scores are in the 98th and 95th percentiles statewide respectively; middle school reading and writing scores are in the 95th and 99–100th percentiles statewide; and high school reading and writing scores are both in the 99–100th percentiles statewide. Students at PSD Global Academy also led the district and the state by reaching “Strong and Distinguished Command” achievement levels in fourth and seventh grade social studies and fifth and eighth grade science.

According to Kate Stevens, PSD Global Academy high school English teacher, freshman class advisor, and yearbook sponsor, “PGA has always fostered innovation through hybrid learning, and given students a place to grow and succeed. This community allows learners to experience true 21st-century preparation with the support of dedicated teachers, staff, and students.”

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