Every day, AdvancePath Academies provide meaningful interventions for students who have dropped out of school or are in danger of not completing their education
Attendance improves quickly, once students enter AdvancePath Academies, compared to students’ attendance levels in their prior schools. It is not uncommon for our students to attend up to 3 times more often than they did in their former setting – a first, important step in attaining credits and earning their high school diploma.
Our Academy results show, more than 90% of the students entering our Academies either graduate high school, transfer to other schools to complete their studies, or continue their studies with their Academy, on track for graduation. This success rate compares favorably with the current national average of 70% of high school students graduating with a high school diploma. However, unlike a traditional high school, the Academies' population is made up wholly of students who are about to separate or have separated from school and is truly representative of the high school dropout population in the U.S.
Further, based on U.S. Census Bureau data, it is estimated that 3 in 10 students who drop out of high school today will earn a high school diploma or equivalent by age 25. Currently, it is projected 9 out of 10 students (90%) enrolling in an AdvancePath Academy are likely to earn their high school diploma before reaching age 20.
AdvancePath Academics understands non-traditional students require multiple pathways to high school graduation. The goal of every AdvancePath Academy is to provide students not succeeding in traditional classroom settings with an an alternative educational setting that will lead to the earning of a high school diploma. Academy students have the opportunity to obtain academic credit, to participate in career exploration activities, to learn through vocational work options, and to experience extended teacher/peer support. In most settings this includes students who have already dropped out of school or those at high risk of leaving school, as well as over-age middle and high school students who are lagging in their studies.
Basis in Research
- 20+ years of operational experience from the learning centers in Sweetwater Union High School District (California)
- Studies on instructional design, cognitive development, and pedagogical practices
- Analysis and development of best-of-breed courseware and curricular materials
- Investigation of student temperaments and risk factors for dropping out
- Work with the National Dropout Prevention Network Center (NDPC/N) at Clemson University
Common Threads Across Research
The AdvancePath Blended Learning Model is research-based and centered on the tenants of self-paced instruction, mastery-based learning, and the experiential factors noted above. It leverages the benefits of adaptive learning technology and teacher-led small group instruction with a focus on tailoring individualized learning paths for every student. Each student receives a customized learning plan based on his or her academic skill gaps to ensure a course of study that will lead to the successful attainment of a high school diploma.
Putting it all together and drawing on the research of Jay Smink, Executive Director of the National Dropout Prevention Center at Clemson University; James McPartland, Director of the Center for Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins University; and Will Jordan, a Senior Analyst at the CNA Corporation, the AdvancePath Academy uniquely embodies all these proven strategies to bring success to students who have dropped out or are at-risk of dropping out.
In each Academy special attention is given to creating a culture of learning based upon:
- Individualized learning and accommodation of diverse learning styles
- Personal recognition and positive reinforcement of student successes, including calls to home for positive behavior and performance
- Intensive attendance monitoring to communicate personal interest in students’ attendance
- Extra time in core academic courses with intensive focus on problem-solving skills
- Life skills training for students
- Special needs
- Additional time on weekends and summers to make up credits
- Coursework delivered at the student’s academic level
- Instructional technology for adaptive learning
- Low student-teacher ratio and small class size to promote student engagement
- Content-specific professional development for teachers and in-class coaching
- Non-threatening environment for learning
Use of Technology
Generally, traditional school programs make use of computers as supplemental teaching tools which focus on supporting classroom instruction. However, for non-traditional students, much more can be accomplished with computers as instructional tools. In a study conducted by Kathleen Cotton* the following was concluded about Computer Aided Instruction (CAI):
- The use of CAI as a supplement to conventional instruction produces higher achievement than the use of conventional instruction alone
- Computer-based education (CAI and other computer applications) produce higher achievement than conventional instruction alone
- Student use of word processors to develop writing skills leads to higher-quality written work than other writing methods (paper and pencil, conventional typewriters)
- The use of CAI leads to more positive attitudes toward computers, course content, quality of instruction, school in general, and self-as-learner than the use of conventional instruction alone
- CAI is more beneficial with lower-achieving students than with higher-achieving ones. Economically disadvantaged students benefit more from CAI than students from higher socio-economic backgrounds
*(Kathleen Cotton, The Schooling Practices That Matter, 2000)