HERNDON, Va., Oct. 28, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- K12 Inc. (NYSE: LRN), the nation's leading provider of proprietary curricula and online education programs for students in pre-kindergarten through high school, today honored six school districts that have transformed education for their students through innovative online programs. The winners of the K 12® 2013 Transformation Award were each selected for a transformative practice that resulted in improving the overall effectiveness, efficiency, and success of online learning, ultimately leading to improved student outcomes. (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20110113/PH29436LOGO ) "These school districts are proving every day that through blended and online learning they can successfully address the individual needs of more of their students," said Gregg Levin, senior vice president of K 12's school and district partnerships. "We are very proud to partner with each of these districts, working together to provide solutions to help their students achieve their academic goals." The winners will be honored this week at the Blended and Online Learning Symposium, a conference hosted by the International Association of K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), in Orlando, Florida. The following are 2013 Transformation Award recipients: Bend- La Pine School District ( Oregon) – Award Winner for Taking a Comprehensive, Open Approach to Serving Students across the District, Effectively Providing a School of One to Meet Students' Individual Needs When Bend-La Pine School District launched its online charter high school nine years ago, its initial goal was to provide supplemental online courses for struggling students and advanced learners. In response to community support and demand for more online options, Bend decided to aggressively expand its online programs in 2012, with the goal of using online options to meet the needs of each student in the district - essentially offering a school of one. Today, using a variety of K12 solutions, the district serves students from pre-K through 12 th grade through full-time and part-time online programs, as well as credit recovery and supplemental programs, in a variety of learning environments. Students enjoy a broad range of curriculum options, scheduling flexibility, and teacher support designed to meet each individual's needs. District policies allow for learning to be customized for each student, including matching the pace of the course to the student's level of understanding – and Bend uses online learning to individualize the pace of instruction across a wide range of courses. Further, Bend implemented a policy that keeps enrollment open all year, removing yet another barrier to truly meeting their students' needs. Today, Bend- La Pine serves more than 2,000 students annually through its online programs. Lacey Township School District ( New Jersey) – Award Winner for Leading Online Learning Initiatives in its State and Leveraging Online Learning Programs to Continue Learning in the Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy Though New Jersey has no state-led online learning program, last year Lacey Township School District became one of the few districts in the state to launch an online learning program, the Lacey Online Learning Academy (LOLA). LOLA began with the idea to use K 12's credit recovery and homebound education solutions help keep students on track for graduation and to serve their hospital/homebound students. The school first engaged a task force of key stakeholders including teachers, parents and students to gain feedback and buy-in for their plan. Before school began, LOLA facilitated three information sessions to educate parents and students about online education. Each of these sessions, held in the evening at the local high school, resulted in a packed auditorium of stakeholders who greeted the idea of online learning with enthusiasm. In the first year, 160 students enrolled in at least one online course. Sadly, however, tragedy struck when Hurricane Sandy made landfall in New Jersey a short time thereafter. Most of the district was without power for at least 15 to 20 days, and the school was closed for a week. During this time, students without power or Internet access at home went to LOLA or a local library to continue their online schooling. Despite the challenges created by Hurricane Sandy, more than 70% of students taking online courses for the first time received passing grades, and many recovered critical credits needed to graduate. Manor Independent School District ( Texas) – Award Winner for Dramatically Decreasing the Drop-out Rate in a 100% At-risk Student Body With a 100% at-risk student body, Manor ISD set out to work with its most challenging students to prepare them academically, emotionally, and socially for life after high school. The alternative for its students – many of whom were teen parents and students with truancy, drug, and gang violence issues – would be a life of poverty or prison. Through the Manor Excel Academy, a self-paced, technology-driven instructional program designed to accelerate completion of the coursework requirements for graduation, the district created individual education plans for each student using the blended learning model at their alternative education campuses. Staffed with passionate educators, the district used K 12's online prescriptive learning and remediation program and an aggressive approach that sets high behavior and achievement requirements in order to participate. The Manor Excel Academy has seen outstanding results: the dropout rate decreased from 19.5% to 7.5% in one year; there were more Academy graduates in two years than the previous 10 years combined; and the district established multiple new community partnerships, including with nearby Austin Community College, which elected to grant each Academy graduate an acceptance letter. New Orleans Center for Creative Arts ( Louisiana) – Award Winner for Enabling Further Development in the Arts, while Ensuring Individual Academic Process in a School that Sends 95% of its Students to College New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) provides the opportunity for high school fine arts students to pursue pre-professional arts training in 11 different disciplines. Students complete an academic curriculum in the morning and arts training in the afternoon. The school accepts students based on an audition, not past academic achievement. The school is committed to supporting each student, regardless of their academic strengths or weaknesses. For this, NOCCA uses K 12's prescriptive learning and remediation program in which teachers are able to use diagnostic tests and targeted lessons to work with students in small groups to address specific skills and objectives. NOCCA also emphasizes the connection between world languages and the arts through the use of Middlebury Interactive Languages™ curriculum in a blended learning environment, offering students courses in five languages at four levels each, something the school could not do on its own. Students are able to choose languages that interest them and that connect with their disciplines. For example, some vocal music students study German and Spanish to help with their arias, while some media arts students, with an interest in French Noir film, study French. This year, NOCCA is integrating individual online courses into its curriculum by piloting an online health class. Lastly, NOCCA achieves amazing results. Each year, a remarkable 95-98% of their graduates go on to college and conservatory programs across the country. Savannah Chatham County Public Schools ( Georgia) – Award Winner for Extending the Learning Day to Keep Students on the Path to Graduation Savannah Chatham County Public Schools saw a need to help students who had either dropped out of school or required numerous credits to graduate. They used Race to the Top Funds and the K 12 prescriptive learning and remediation solution to establish the Twilight Program, a blended afterschool program that helps students gain credit for courses they had failed or take additional courses they needed to graduate. The first year, there were 108 students in the program, and they earned a total of 154 credits. Before the second year, the district decided to expand the program to all high school students who either wanted to take courses they had failed or those who wanted to take advanced courses. That year, they had over 800 students enrolled in the program, and they earned over 1,600 credits. The 2012-13 school year was the third year for the program, and it continued to grow. Savannah Chatham had 1,500 students enrolled, and they earned over 1,800 credits. Today, other nearby district schools run their own after school programs, modeled after the Twilight Program established by Savannah Chatham County Public School District. West Aurora School District 129 ( Illinois) – Award Winner for Giving Middle School Students a Head Start with World Language Learning and Better Preparing them for AP ® Level Language Courses West Aurora School District 129 recognizes that in a global economy, students need exposure to other languages and cultures in order to be successful in college and their careers. The district decided to create a program for its gifted middle school students using high school level world language courses by Middlebury Interactive Languages (MIL). Students choose the language they are most interested in learning, and online teachers from MIL provide students the feedback they need without the district having to disrupt its staffing plans. Students enjoy learning languages in this format and often practice at home in the evening. West Aurora's results are outstanding. The first year of the program, 85% of the middle school world language students earned a B grade or higher, and for the first time, the district has middle schoolers who are ready for AP level language instruction as high school freshmen. There is such a demand for the world language program from the West Aurora community that the district has expanded online language experiences to its elementary and high school students.
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