Cookeville High School Builds Rigor Online with Compass Learning


Lane Ward, principal of  Cookeville High School (CHS) in Putnam County School System in Cookeville, Tennessee, started to the summer of 2012 looking to find the best partner for their various digital content needs with several goals in mind. “We were determined to find an online tool that provided more rigor and more accountability for our Credit Recovery Program,” he explains. “The tool we’d been using wasn’t cutting it. It had gotten to the point where credit recovery was an ‘easy out’ for our students, and it was impacting their efforts in the regular classroom.”
The district purchased CompassLearning Odyssey in July 2012 to use across all schools and grades. Since implementation, nearly 9,000 of its approximately 10,000 students have completed more than 480,000 Odyssey activities.
Ward immediately made three important investments to successfully implement CompassLearning Odyssey on the CHS campus. “First, I identified and dedicated the physical space
to establish two computer labs. Second, I allocated resources to purchase the necessary hardware. And third, I hired the right people to fully staff our two new labs.”
That fall, CHS began utilizing Compass Learning as an intervention tool. The intent was to keep students on track within their classrooms, and out of the school’s traditional Credit Recovery Program. When students fell behind in class, their teachers created standards-based assignments in Odyssey
that targeted the specific skills with which they were struggling. Each student received personalized learning paths that zeroed in on their unique knowledge gaps, which they worked on during designated lab times to accelerate closure and bring them back up-to-speed. This program resulted in 33 percent fewer students (compared to the previous year) who were required to attend credit recovery classes.
“What we’ve quickly discovered about CompassLearning Odyssey as a credit recovery/ intervention tool is it helps stop the domino effect that typically occurs when students fall behind,” Ward explains. “Before, when a student failed Algebra I, for example, he took the online course, recovered the credit, and then moved on to Algebra II and/or Geometry. But, our previous program lacked the necessary rigor to gain foundational knowledge of basic algebra, so this same student found himself struggling, once again. Because Odyssey is so much more rigorous and requires mastery of standards, students get on track and are better able to stay on track as they move through sequential courses.”
CompassLearning Odyssey is also used for intervention in CHS’s intercession program, open labs held during the first week of spring break instead of the first week of fall break. Targeted students complete assignments in Odyssey for remediation/grade recovery. Additionally, Cookeville High School participates in the county-wide benchmarks that are administered through Odyssey. The benchmarks are created by district instructional coaches and target key standards taught each nine weeks. The assessments are administered after the teaching occurs in the classrooms; learning paths are then created for students and serve as a re-teaching tool. In addition, CHS uses Odyssey for homebound students, optional student enrichment, and blended learning activities.

Facilitator Key shares a story about one student he’s been working with in his lab who is having great success. “This particular student really likes the transparency and consistency of CompassLearning Odyssey. The program clearly details where she needs to go and the steps she needs to take to get there. And, she really benefits from the scaffolded help, like the examples and embedded definitions.
In just one semester, this 12th grader will recover five credits using CompassLearning Odyssey. This is a student who was considering dropping out of school, and now she’s on track to graduate with her class.”
Ward has a very different example of how Compass Learning is impacting students at CHS. “One of our seniors is participating in the Tennessee governor’s upcoming roundtable discussion on the state of education,” he explains. “Among the questions participants will discuss at the roundtable is, ‘What are some of the initiatives you’ve been exposed to in the past several years that have had a positive impact on your educational achievement?’
“This student plans to cite CompassLearning Odyssey as one example, because she has used the tool for credit advancement. A very bright, motivated, active student — involved in numerous service organizations, clubs, student government, and  the campus newspaper — Odyssey gave her the opportunity to take a required elective online, which helped create much-needed room and flexibility in her busy schedule.”
Disclosures: CompassLearning is a Getting Smart Advocacy Partner.

Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

Discover the latest in learning innovations

Sign up for our weekly newsletter.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.