How One Blended Learning High School Uses its Data

Blended learning schools are rich in data, so it only makes sense that they leverage it. One school is really putting their data to work. The GOAL Academy blended learning high school uses technology and data for a variety of reasons — to record their students’ progress, create student profiles, and to keep staff members on the same page.

GOAL Academy caters to students who do not fit into the traditional school format. Using tech and data is even more critical for a blended learning school like GOAL Academy because these students won’t be in the classroom every day, but yet need lots of attention.

Dan Colussi, Director of Data and Innovations at GOAL Academy, says the students he works with have unique challenges. They have already started a family and can’t put in eight hours a day, or they were home schooled, or they were tired of being bullied. Using data profiles helps instructors tackle a student’s specific case and then map out an individualized plan for them.

Most of these students come in with low scores and need the extra help to bring their reading and math levels up. That’s why GOAL Academy needs a special type of format to work with students. They have life coaches who help with students’ needs and specialists who help with specific content.

Another component that has really helped GOAL Academy with their students is by using the data-driven software, Sisense. They are in their second year of using the software, and Colussi says it’s been helpful in keeping track of their students who are located in every corner of Colorado. “If we don’t have a way to pull that information together, where do you even know where to put all your resources?”

With Sisense and Key Performance Indicators in use, teachers are able to monitor students daily. “Did they do work, what did they work on, we feed all of the information from our systems into our centralized database in order to give up-to-date information on where these students are,” said Colussi. “Since we provide students with their own computer, we give them third-degree autonomy to control their education and we’re able to go ahead and make sure they’re staying on track.”

With over 3200 students across seven regions and 24 education sites, Colussi said he’s seen an increase in graduates since they started using data and metrics to reach their goals.

Colussi says overseeing data is also a way to hold instructors and staff members accountable and to see how their staff is doing. They’re using the big data driven from the staffs’ course loads to develop metrics to measure their progress. “We have a model we have piloted this year that has different metrics for academic roads for academic achievement: student engagement, attendance, post secondary workforce readiness, all these things we’re developing into a framework to evaluate our staff.”

It wasn’t until the school got its data in order and continually produced clean data that it became a valuable tool for GOAL Academy. With more blended learning schools on the rise, one lesson to learn is to use data to its full potential.

 Photo credit: Garry Knight

Michelle Harven

Michelle Harven

Michelle is a current graduate student at Emerson College and an intern at Boston's public radio station. She enjoys exploring the world of educational technology and writing about the ever-changing sector and its potential.