Seton Blended Learning Network: 2015-16 Results
The fifth year of the Seton Blended Learning Initiative was wildly successful. Seton expanded its pioneering blended learning model to two new schools and one new geography (New Orleans) while continuing to support other blended learning pioneers in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, and Philadelphia. In 2015-16, Seton Education Partners partnered with eight schools in six cities serving over 2,000 students.
Growth did not impede success. Seton helped St. Joseph Catholic School ensure 100% of its 3rd grade scholars met Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee—a 71% increase from the school’s pre-Seton average. Seton also partnered with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to launch a third school (Resurrection Catholic). Thanks to the blended learning ventures of Seton and the Archdiocese, Los Angeles now has the country’s largest network of blended learning Catholic schools. Finally, Seton expanded its model to all grades K-8 at Philadelphia’s DePaul Catholic—giving its 450 students access to personalized learning and small-group, data-driven instruction.
Seton investors brought roughly $1.5 million dollars in computer hardware, the most advanced educational software, and on-the-ground expertise to create instructional environments that provide personalized learning for students in core academic subjects. During classes, half of the students received personalized instruction on computers while the other half engaged in data-driven, small-group instruction with their teacher.
Seton works with each school’s leadership team to inject best practices from high-performing, “no excuses” urban schools to build a culture where scholars develop the knowledge, skills, and character traits necessary to earn a college degree and pursue lives of value, faith, and integrity. Propelled by these changes and the Seton Blended Learning Network’s proven results, partner schools significantly increase enrollment and reduce per-pupil operating costs.
1. How did student academic growth compare to the national average?
In our fifth year, students in Seton’s Blended Learning Network continued to make tremendous academic gains.
Collectively, 98% of students at Seton’s eight blended learning schools are minorities, and over two-thirds qualify for the federal free or reduced-price lunch program. Students take the nationally normed Northwest Evaluation Association Measures of Academic Progress (NWEA MAP) assessment which allows schools to compare student growth to grade-level peers across state lines. NWEA MAP monitors student growth in the fall, winter, and spring. According to NWEA, only 50% of students nationally meet their individual growth targets. This year, 69% of Seton Blended Learning Network scholars made one or more years of progress in math while 68% made one or more years of progress in reading. These results are on par with or outpace that of many high-performing charter networks.
2. Is this more growth than individual students would typically achieve? Yes.
Schools should be expected to deliver one year of academic progress for each year a student is in school. On NWEA MAP, only 50% of students nationally meet this goal. Our scholars grew 1.3 times faster than the national average in reading and 1.2 times faster in math. This accelerated growth helps eliminate the achievement gap between our students and their more affluent peers.
3. How strong was student growth? Very strong.
A grade’s growth percentile ranking helps puts NWEA MAP data into context. This metric measures how a grade’s achievement compares with peers who started the year at the same level. As you can see below, all of our grades grew at a rate faster than average.
4. Are students moving up quartiles? Yes.
5. Has enrollment improved? Yes.
Seton Blended Learning Network schools collectively increased enrollment by 31% from pre-Seton totals. Schools are not only more financially sustainable, but they’re providing more low-income students with access to high-quality faith-based education.
6. What’s next for the Seton Blended Learning Network?
In 2016-17, four new schools will join the Seton Blended Learning Network—St. Francis de Sales Catholic School and St. Cecilia Catholic School in Cincinnati, St. Malachy Catholic School in Philadelphia, and Immaculate Conception School in Chicago. Seton will also help Milwaukee’s Nativity Jesuit Academy welcome an inaugural first grade class and continue the journey towards becoming a high-performing, co-ed K-8 school after spending over twenty years as an all-boys middle school. With these additions, the Seton Blended Learning Network will serve roughly 3,000 students across twelve schools in seven cities nationwide.
Each school implementing Seton’s model will have full-time, on-the-ground experts supporting teachers in the areas of blended learning best practices, data analysis, and school culture. All of Seton’s blended learning managers are talented, experienced urban educators who have completed service through Teach for America or the University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education Program. New Seton blended learning schools will collaborate with existing network members via Seton’s nationwide professional development model that relentlessly pursues ways to better serve both students and teachers. Seton is excited to welcome these schools, children, families, and staff members to the Seton Blended Learning Network family.
Seton Blended Learning Director Jeff Kerscher shares his excitement. “Catholic schools have a rich tradition of serving low-income families and Seton is thrilled to build upon that tradition. While our academic results are fantastic, we are most proud that partner schools offer personalized instruction and robust character education in a faith-based setting. Every day our scholars experience a cutting-edge model while learning how to achieve excellence and model Christ in their communities. That is a combination you cannot get anywhere else.”
Seton is currently accepting applications to expand its blended learning initiative in 2017-18. To learn more about the Seton Blended Learning Network, and how your school or diocese can join, please contact Jeff Kerscher.