Reynoldsburg eSTEM Academy uses an advisory system that they call “Fusion” to augment the student’s ability to think of their academic progress as a series of design challenges. Because they are a STEM school, they encourage deep thinking in a design/problem solving modality. Although the process is not linear, they are able to help the students model analysis, synthesis, evaluation and creativity in the way that they approach their learning. Here are some of the characteristics of design applications:
Imagine/Discover – Fusion advisors ask students to visualize the optimum performance that they want (e.g., I want to enter a college engineering program…).
Plan/Interpret – Fusion teachers help students to formulate a plan by interpreting and analyzing current status and then defining the design constraints before formulating a plan of action.
Analyze Current Status – Fusion advisors help students think of the current status of their learning using data and contextual information available (e.g., I am predicted to score 140 on the ACT End of Course Exam in chemistry, I have not yet mastered the use of the Pythagorean theorem after three attempts in geometry…).
Define the Design Constraints – Fusion advisors use the design constraints to help students to anticipate future action as a result of what they are doing now. This enables a sense of advocacy for each student while looking at the here and now (e.g., I have three semesters left in eSTEM to become college ready, the college readiness benchmark for Chemistry is 148 on the ACT End of Course exam, to be accepted in an engineering program the prerequisite for college physics is high school chemistry and physics…).
Design a Plan of Action – Fusion advisors help students make the leap to what they want to attain by saying things like “if this is what you want and see yourself doing, and that is the current status, what will you do to close the gap?” “What are the benchmarks by which you will measure your progress?” “Who is available to help and advocate for your success against the benchmarks…”
Improve/Experiment – The reality of any design process is that some things will work and others will not. Fusion advisors help the students to think in a “rapid fail” way so that persistence and resilience are improved.
Share – Each student should see themselves as an efficiency expert sharing what worked so that others don’t struggle so much.
The students are in the process of developing an app to help capture their thinking in Fusion.
On Assessment. Assessment for learning is a core value in eSTEM. Teachers are accountable to the academic achievement (scores on tests) and the growth of each student through a value-added system. All coursework has been Common Core-Aligned for the last three years and includes performance indicators against the Next-Gen Science Standards. Each assessment should inform the student, teacher and their parents about what the student knows and has mastered and what gaps still need to be addressed.
Teachers and students collaborate on the best path for optimizing growth and include nationally normed and referenced tests. Every 9th grade student takes the PLAN as formative information regarding their progress toward ACT. Every 10th grade student take the PSAT which includes prediction for SAT as well as predictions regarding performance on a variety of AP courses. This information enables the formative discussion about AP and Dual Enrollment coursework and what is needed to close gaps. eSTEM also uses 9 ACT end of course exams in core content to encourage both the performance of the student against their potential ACT score and the prediction of possible performance in college level coursework in that subject area. eSTEM pays for all assessments listed out of their general budget and for the value-added assessment system which is not required by the State of Ohio for high school.
eSTEM Academy uses real time performance information in their Fusion system. Students and their parents can see their progress on any assessment or assignment at any time through an online web portal.
eSTEM Academy uses the predictive data system to schedule students into enrichment or intervention during the school day through a “flex” period.
The district received good news at the end of 2013 as the Straight A Fund in Ohio awarded Reynoldsburg $14.4 million to lead a network of 12 districts in the Pathway to Prosperity Network. The districts will work with Columbus State Community College and Battelle for Kids to expand opportunities for students to earn college credit.
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