Seton Blended Learning Network: 2016-17 Results
In its sixth year, Seton Education Partners expanded its pioneering Blended Learning Initiative to four new schools and one new geography (Chicago), while continuing to support other blended learning network schools in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, New Orleans, and Philadelphia. In 2016-17, Seton Education Partners partnered with twelve schools in seven cities serving over 3,000 students.
Seton partnered with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati to launch two additional schools (St. Francis de Sales and St. Cecilia), bringing Seton's local total to three. Seton also partnered with Independence Mission Schools to launch a second school in Philadelphia (St. Malachy). With the addition of Immaculate Conception in Chicago's South Side, Seton added more than 1,000 seats to our network of Catholic schools.
Growth did not impede success. On the nationally normed NWEA MAP assessment, Seton scholars beat the national average of students achieving one or more years of growth by 14% in reading and 12% in math. Seton also helped ensure that 90% of 3rd grade scholars at our Cincinnati blended learning schools met Ohio's Third Grade Reading Guarantee—1 27% increase from pre-Seton average.
Seton's investors brought nearly 2.1 million dollars in computer hardware, the most advanced educational software, and on-the-ground expertise to create an instructional environment that provides personalized learning for students in core academic subjects. During classes, half of the students received individualized instruction on computers while the other half engaged in data-driven, small-group instruction with their teacher.
Seton worked with each school's leadership team to inject best practices from high-performing urban schools to build a culture where scholars develop the knowledge, skills, and character traits necessary to earn college degrees and pursue lives of value, faith, and integrity. Propelled by these changes and the Seton Blended Learning Network's proven results, our partner schools significantly increased enrollment and reduced per-pupil operating costs this year.
1. How did student academic growth compare to the national average?
In our sixth year, students in Seton’s Blended Learning Network continued to make tremendous academic gains.
Collectively, 98% of students at Seton’s twelve blended learning schools are minorities, and more than 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, 62% of students in Seton's blended learning schools made one or more years of progress in math, while 64% 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. Collectively our scholars grew 1.2 times faster than the national average in both reading and 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 level's growth compares to similar classrooms nationally. As you can see below, the vast majority of our classes demonstrated growth in the top third of their respective grades.
4. Are students moving up quartiles? Yes.
5. Has enrollment improved? Yes.
Seton Blended Learning Network schools collectively increased enrollment 28% 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?
One new school will join the Seton Blended Learning Network in 2017-18—St. Teresa Catholic School in Cincinnati. The addition of St. Teresa will make Cincinnati our largest area of impact, as we will now serve four schools and more than 1,000 students there—nearly a third of our overall network total. This size will allow us to achieve economies of scale and strengthen our local community of practice, fostering collaboration among our four schools. We are very excited to be in a position to drive even better results at our partner sites.
Each school implementing Seton's model will have a full-time, on-the-ground expert 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 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 St. Teresa's 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 our most vulnerable children, and Seton is thrilled to build on 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 combination sets students up for success in this world and the next."
Seton is currently accepting applications to expand its blended learning initiative in 2018-19. To learn more about the Seton Blended Learning Network, and how your school or diocese can join, please contact Jeff Kerscher.