Piedmont City Schools Partners with Education Elements to Implement Blended Learning and Exceeds Growth Expectations

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The first six months of a bold and innovative blended learning and competency model translates to significant growth on nationally normed exams.

MBolden helps my students become more responsible for their own learning, which better prepares them for the future!

Piedmont Middle School is excited to announce that personalized learning has helped students to outperform growth expectations on NWEA’s Fall to Winter assessment in 6th grade Math and in 6th, 7th and 8th grade English and Language Arts (ELA).

Piedmont City School District is a small district of 1200 students in rural Alabama. In 2009, Piedmont launched mPower Piedmont, an initiative to provide laptops to students in grades four through twelve. The district quickly realized that not all students had internet access and while local businesses tried to help out but allowing students to use their internet, it was not a sustainable solution. Superintendent Matt Akin applied for and received a grant for city-wide wireless access. However, it was still not enough to move the needle. While students now had internet access, the district needed to do more to personalize learning.

Beginning in 2013, with funding from NGLC, Piedmont City School District worked with Education Elements, an organization that helps districts to design and implement personalized learning, to design a new school model incorporating mastery-based and blended learning. After spending nearly a year on developing the design, training the teachers, and selecting digital content, Piedmont Middle School launched its new instructional model in August 2014. Education Elements continued to work with the district, supporting the teachers and iterating on the model.

“Working with the leaders and teachers in Piedmont has been great,” said Angela Chubb, Director of Design and Implementation for Education Elements. “They are trying to do something different and it is working.”

Students recently received results from their Fall to Winter NWEA results and the growth was significant. In every grade level in reading students grew at least 50% more than the national norm expectations for growth. 6th grade reading saw unbelievable results, growing nearly twice what was expected in a short period of time. 6th grade math also saw strong results, as scores grew 30% more than expected.

Piedmont Middle School was awarded a Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) Planning grant for the 2013-14 school year. The grant provided funding to plan for the implementation of a personalized learning environment for all students. Last spring, the school was awarded an NGLC Breakthrough grant to fully implement personalized learning over the next three years. In the Piedmont Middle personalized learning model, students move forward through the curriculum at their own pace based on mastery of competencies.

Middle school teacher, Darla Cooper, said, “MBolden helps my students become more responsible for their own learning, which better prepares them for the future!”

Superintendent Matt Akin has led the district’s transformation efforts since they started. “None of this has been easy,” he said. “But it has been worth it. We are providing our students with opportunities they did not have before, and are giving them the more personalized education they deserve.”

Piedmont Middle School is doing something really bold,” said Anthony Kim, CEO and Founder of Education Elements. “It is great to see that it is having the results we all hoped that the district would. “With a leader like Matt Akin, I am not surprised.”

Piedmont Middle School plans to continue to iterate on the model, moving students closer to true mastery-based learning and using the restructured class schedule to open up new opportunities for students.

About Education Elements
Education Elements partners with districts to develop and implement personalized learning strategies. Ed Elements' services help districts to create strategies, design instructional models and support teachers in integrating technology and instruction. Education Elements’ personalized learning platform, Highlight, provides students, teachers, and administrators each with a single entry point to access digital content and the detailed performance data they need to guide instruction and learning. This innovative cloud service offers simple and accessible data visualizations with actionable insights for users of all types. Education Elements has worked with over 100 schools across 40+ districts in the US; more than any other company.

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Amy Jenkins

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