Tennessee DOE Blended Learning Pilot Yields Promising Results

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Tennessee Department of Education has found that the first year of its two-year pilot introducing blended learning to Algebra I classes around the state was most successful when teachers received regular, personalized coaching from BetterLesson, said officials. 

Teachers from four Chattanooga area schools participated in the pilot: Hixson High School, Howard School of Academics and Technology, East Ridge High School and Ooltewah Middle School. 

The pilot is a key feature in Tennessee Succeeds, the state’s five year plan to improve overall student achievement. Blended learning combines classroom teaching with technology so students can better control their own learning experience through video, websites to practice lessons, and other online instructional tools.

At the outset, two-thirds of the teachers in the pilot said they had never used blended learning in their classes before. That led the DOE to also provide personal, one-to-one coaching to each teacher, giving them advice from master teachers on approaches that could help them in their classrooms. 

A DOE report on the first year of the pilot says, taken as a whole, the results show a positive relationship between blended learning and increased student test scores in 37 participating schools. Coaching provided by BetterLesson was a catalyst for many Tennessee educators to adapt to the new teaching model. According to the report: 

“While the data does not completely explain what caused the increase from the first semester to the second semester, coaching and support provided by BetterLesson was likely a factor that led to an increase in differentiated instruction. When asked on the survey if BetterLesson coaches identified practical strategies that support differentiated instruction in their classrooms, 87 percent of the teachers agreed or strongly agreed.”

“One teacher said, ‘It is like a B12 shot every two weeks. It makes me feel supported, like I can do anything.’ Another teacher said, ‘The BetterLesson strategies…helped me expand my toolbox.’”

“Overall, teachers indicated that BetterLesson helped them implement blended learning in their classrooms or implement specific blended learning strategies.”

BetterLesson coaches have an average of 12 years of classroom teaching experience.

"As long as teachers are driving student achievement, we need to equip them for success,” said BetterLesson Co-Founder Alex Grodd. “We are excited to see positive change happening in Tennessee schools. The amount of work to introduce this new way of learning is massive. One-to-one teacher coaching is helping teachers become comfortable and implement these changes.” 

While teacher confidence and competence in implementing blended learning is a critical factor in its success, it is not the only factor, said officials. The report cites access to technology and the quality of technology as crucial for adoption. 

Read the full report here: https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/education/ccte/ccte_blended_learning_report_2016-17.pdf


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