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May 16, 2018
Check out some practice questions for Indiana’s new ILEARN test
ILEARN will replace ISTEP for elementary and middle school students next year.
July 14, 2017
Now hiring: Indiana is looking for a testing company to create ISTEP’s replacement
The testing system goes into effect in 2019.
November 20, 2012
Students who missed class after Sandy now have online option
Students at Brooklyn's Olympus Academy, a transfer high school, use online learning to move ahead at their own pace. To help students whose homes and schools were damaged in Hurricane Sandy make up for the days of learning time they lost, the Department of Education is expanding its online course offerings to them. Most schools have returned to working order since Sandy left dozens of them flooded or without power, and attendance is slowly rising. But department officials say they are concerned that students who missed many days of school, or continue to miss school because their home situations prevent them from getting to school, will fall behind. The solution they've devised is to expand online courses that some schools are already offering to more students. The courses will be open to most students whose homes or schools were affected by the hurricane, and will count for credit towards graduation. The opportunity has the potential to reach students who otherwise might not be able to make up classwork they have missed during the school day. But it requires internet access, which many still lack. "The goal is to help kids get as much instruction as possible," said department spokeswoman Connie Pankratz. "We were able to build this up really quickly beause we had this platform already existing."
May 21, 2012
Wired Olympus students race toward diploma at their own pace
Danielle Boone at work in her U.S. History class. Danielle Boone's U.S. History class at Olympus Academy High School had just begun, but she didn't need a teacher to tell her what to do. The glowing screen looking back at her told her everything she needed to know. Boone typed out the final section of an assignment on immigration – "a FIVE-sentence summary paragraph (including analysis sentence) about immigration and urbanization" – which she emailed to her teacher, sitting nearby, for grading. She then watched a short video online about the Civil War to research her next assignment, an essay on the Transcontinental Railroad. Boone will continue knocking off these assignments on her school-issued Mac computer at her own blistering pace until, finally, she's completed what is required to pass the course and earn a credit. The day after she completes the last assignment for the U.S. History class, she'll start working on another course she needs to pass to graduate. "I'm a student who works fast and this school helps me get credits," Boone said during a brief break in her work. "The faster you go, the faster you get credits." Boone is the kind of self-starter that city officials envisioned when they tasked Olympus Academy, a transfer school, with creating an online learning model in its school for its over-aged population two years ago. Olympus is part of the iLearnNYC initiative, a division of the city's Innovation Zone. Until now, the initiative, which included 124 schools this year, mainly provided technological resources to schools that were devising ways to mix traditional classroom instruction with online curriculum, an approach known as blended learning.
July 11, 2011
Tech-savvy principals give muted response to seat-time change
Principals are grappling with the implications of a state policy change that allows them to award credit for shorter courses that students take online. A regulation passed in June by the Board of Regents allows city high schools to award credit in online courses or blended learning courses, where the class is conducted partly online and partly in a traditional classroom setting, regardless of how much time students actually spend in the classes. City Department of Education officials lobbied the Regents in support of the change. A dozen principals discussed the new regulations today at the meeting of a monthly panel led by Alisa Berger and Sarah Scrogin, two principals who have spearheaded activities within the Innovation Zone, the DOE's subset of technology-centered schools. (Notably, Berger's high school, the iSchool, and Scrogin's, East Bronx Academy for the Future, have worked together in the past on intra-city distance learning classes.) As members of the Innovation Zone's selective iLearn cohort, which numbered 40 last year but is jumping to 127 this fall, the principals who attend the monthly meetings have used technology to reshaped their schedules, supplies, and teachers' workloads. When it comes to using technology to change teaching and learning, the principals usually have a lot to say. But when Scrogin asked them how they were thinking about responding to the change in seat time rules, they were quiet.
February 25, 2011
Pilot of new online classes earn mixed reviews from principals
An ambitious pilot program that's bringing online classes into dozens of public schools is getting mixed reviews from principals. The pilot, known as iLearn, is part of the city's $50 million Innovation Zone, or iZone — an initiative the Department of Education is touting as a strategy to improve schools during budget-conscious times. Funded through a combination of Race to the Top winnings, private donations and $10 million in tax dollars, the iZone is paying for experiments in online learning, staffing, and school time in 80 schools this year. Half of those schools are taking part in iLearn and are now offering students online Advanced Placement classes, credit recovery, and "blended" instruction that combines online classes with face-to-face instruction. Though iLearn hasn't earned much attention from the press, it accounts for roughly a quarter of the city's iZone spending, or $13 million over the next four years. Mid-way through the school year, principals of iLearn schools report results that vary based on whether they're experimenting with advanced courses or programs for their most struggling students. Principals of small schools where there's often too few students to fill AP classes are largely enthusiastic about the new programs. For them, iLearn is an add-on that helps their high-achievers.
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