Cheryl Vedoe:What we have found in surveying students who have an unsuccessful track record is that the programs using it most successfully are actually brick-and-mortar programs where the teacher is in the classroom with the student. Very consistent with the point that you made, we find that those students who need more support and help are generally not students who will do well in a virtual environment. If you go back to the early days of Apex, we were serving advanced placement students, and exclusively virtual students.
Today, over 95% of the students we serve are actually engaging with our digital curriculum or online courses in a brick-and-mortar classroom. The reason that digital curriculum is working so well for those students is that it is through the use of digital curriculum that schools are able to provide the experience that each student needs. The challenge for a teacher in the classroom is well understood. A typical high school teacher has a class of 30 students who have different foundational skills and different abilities to move through the content. Frankly, different learning styles as well.
The challenge for the teacher is that a classroom teacher has to take all students through the prescribed curriculum on the same schedule. Students who are capable of accelerating become bored and actually aren’t achieving their potential. Students who need more time aren’t given that time. What digital curriculum enables teachers to do is to address that need to provide a much more personalized experience for students so that, frankly, more students can be successful.
Sramana Mitra: Can you double-click down on that in terms of how technology is being adopted in the classrooms for this kind of skill gap analysis and personalized learning? What role does technology play and what role does the teacher play in your experience?
Cheryl Vedoe: It continues to evolve. That has been another change for us in the time since we originally spoke. As we began to work with schools to support the student population that has not experienced the traditional classroom, the programs in the schools that were using our curriculum were very specific programs. For example, it could be a credit recovery program where students are in a program typically during the day where they are given the opportunity to take a course that they’ve previously failed at in order to earn credit that’s required to graduate from high school.
Those programs and classrooms look very different from the classrooms that you would normally see in a high school. In those credit recovery programs, you would find every student in front of a computer. Students may be taking completely different courses. Even those who are in the same course will be moving at their own pace and engaging with the elements of instruction that are best suited to help that student learn. In those classrooms, the teacher becomes an individual one-on-one coach and facilitator for each student.