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Thought Leaders in Online Education: Sari Factor, CEO of Edgenuity (Part 2)

Posted on Thursday, Aug 21st 2014

Sari Factor: It’s also an excellent solution for acceleration. We have situations where students in middle school might be ready for geometry, which is typically taught in the 10th grade. But there is no Geometry curriculum or teacher at the middle school level. They might take a course from a high school teacher administering the course from the high school campus, but they would be studying the curriculum appropriate for high school mathematics while they are still in middle school. We see both ends of the spectrum – the low-level and high-level kids.

I think, from online learning in middle and high school right now, we’re beginning to see a move towards this becoming more mainstream. We have many schools that are beginning to experiment. They’ve seen Edgenuity in action with the low-level and the high-level kids. Why can’t we use that for everyone? We have some interesting models emerging of blended learning where schools are using our curriculum as the core curriculum and replacing textbooks. That’s where we’re starting to see new momentum and growth as this hits the mainstream.

Sramana Mitra: Currently, if you were to look at the student body or schools that are using your program, what percentage of the business is acceleration, what percentage is for credit recovery, and what percentage is the mainstream education?

Sari Factor: There are more kids who need extra help on the bottom end than there are at the top end. Probably, a majority of kids are struggling, then there’s a smaller portion of kids who are in need of acceleration or more mainstream. Using completely digital curriculum for mainstream is really new, and you’ve got a lot of different players coming in to the market and propelling that and taking advantage.

There are a lot of devices being purchased in the schools. There is new hardware coming in, driven in part by the new assessments that require that they be taken online. Now that the schools have the technology to actually run digital curriculum, you’ll see more adoption of digital curriculum as core curriculum. But we’re at the very early stages of that.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s talk about the low-end of the student body that you’re helping recover credit for. What are the dynamics of that student body and their interactions with your courses? What’s interesting about that business?

Sari Factor: What’s interesting is for so many of these kids, they have struggled for a long time in school. Many of them have missed key skills along the way – maybe as far back as third and fourth grade. They’re missing basic understanding of fractions in the mathematics realm, or they’re not strong readers. That’s held them back in middle school and high school – not only in English Language Arts, and Mathematics, but also across subject areas. They struggle with reading their Science textbooks, or they struggle reading their History textbooks.

This is one of the things that online learning has been able to do for these students. One is they can move at their own pace. It might just take a student a little bit longer. Secondly, we have put a lot of different support into the software to enable students who struggle with school, or struggle with getting through curriculum to move more rapidly and build the comprehension that they need. There are e-notes that kids can take in the platform. We encourage kids to take notes on their courses while they’re working through them.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Thought Leaders in Online Education: Sari Factor, CEO of Edgenuity
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