RTI & eCredit use of Compass

I’m an eCredit teacher after-school and a Biology teacher at Longmont High. I am also one of the people in my building who is on the RTI team. You can read more about me and the other teachers in the eCR program here

This fall I started teaching for eCredit and I immediately saw the connections for using the online software as an RTI support mechanism. Research shows that the best RTI programs have credit recovery opportunities during school or outside of school for students to make up failed classes and our district’s eCredit recovery program and content show great possibility. eCredit uses Compass Learning Odyssey software and it’s mostly beneficial because it is standards based.  Here’s what i mean: if a student has a high knowledge base, they can test out of topics or units that our district has customized. Then the Compass system generates what they didn’t show proficiency on. This way, they only need to focus on the work that they maybe missed in class due to absences or topics they just did not understand.

Using Compass as a math intervention especially can be very beneficial and something we have discussed at LHS for 9th grade RTI. Students could be working on Compass class they failed concurrently with the math class. This would allow them to make up the topics right away instead of falling further behind. If teachers had some training with Compass, they could assign pieces to students to use at home for re-looping purposes. This would be so great to use with students that missed class for an extended absence or to reteach materials that were not proficient on Unit tests. It is so hard to find time in class to reloop and that is such an integral part of the teaching and learning cycle.

But it doesn’t end there, we could use Compass as an evaluation tool to see where students are at and to diagnose needs of students. Since compass can be individualized per student, teachers could assign different concepts to students based on the diagnostics.


We can serve students way before they need eCredit. So why don’t we?


Our eCredit teachers are passionate about students learning;  however, it’s difficult to assess whether students learning eCredit impacts their achievement in the next grade when the majority of students are our 12th graders looking to graduate by May. What’s even more frustrating is getting 12th grade students enrolling in eCredit  to recover a 9th or 10th grade course. If  we had helped them sooner, imagine what they could’ve done with their learning over the four years? Can you imagine if eLearning was able to support schools beyond eCredit Recovery and inject some of the programming as intervention not as recovery? What do you think would happen? These credit recovery students who are typically at-risk, disengaged students, often close to dropping out students, may have had a more successful academic career had they been targeted earlier on to receive credit intervention rather than recovery. Rather, they come to eCredit at the end of their K-12 experience when they are exiting the system and desperately looking for options to recover credit and earn a diploma; unfortunately, it’s too late for their high school experience and a missed opportunity in that child’s life .
I would like to see eLearning and eCredit serving our students when it matters; when they can take their learning to the next year and be able to be successful in the next grade level– and maybe, by doing this we will open up doors for them by preparing them sooner than later to take, for example, advanced courses which can become a realistic and encouraged one. So instead of waiting for eCredit, when we see a student failing mid-semester, we give teachers access to Compass Learning and allow them to use it with their struggling students. I’ll bet that those students will not fail that course that school year. Teachers and students should have access to the content that eLearning is sitting on… it can be used for MORE than eCredit. And I will continue to push to make this a reality for our district’s students.

eCredit Survey: What our toughest customers are saying about eCredit

Monday March 4th marks the start of the sixth week of the eCredit Recovery spring session and while we have 4 more weeks to go (not including Spring Break) in the after-school program and just 3 in the during the day, we already have about 14 students who have successfully completed and recovered their credit, and are back on track for graduation! Since we kicked off this past fall 2012, we have had 229 students enroll in eCredit alone and an additional 21 students at DLA accessing Compass Learning Odyssey content for supplemental use. So far this year, 94 students have agreed to take an anonymous exit eCredit survey. (Keep in mind that not all students who have completed eCredit this year took the survey):

Let’s start with a basic demographic: students grade level this year. Take a look at the percentage of students who are seniors and juniors enrolled in eCredit: 88% (not unusual) and look at that in relation to the courses recovered:
Grade Level

Grade Level

The image below shows at least 65% of courses recovered are 9th and 10th grade level courses. Just think about what that has meant to a student’s academic success over the past four years if he or she didn’t get the content in 9th and 10th grade and is only NOW recovering that freshman course!
Courses Recovered 2012-2013

Courses Recovered 2012-2013

Also interesting are the number of students who selected “didn’t understand content” for why they failed the course the first time round: 35%…  Meanwhile,  29% who selected “didn’t pay attention” as their reason and 24% who selected “didn’t come to class” and the 45% who didn’t complete homework, selected behaviors that were probably a result of them struggling with the content and subsequently checking out of learning it the first time.
(Note: you’ll notice for some questions, students were able to select more than one checkbox so numbers do not add up to 100%. It’s indicated on the image if it is)
course the first time

Reasons students failed the course the first time

In fact, it’s supported here with 74% selecting that before taking the credit recovery course they had struggled understanding the content in the regular classroom.
Struggled understanding the content

Struggled understanding the content

And here’s the exciting part, 97% of students who completed the survey selected that after taking the course their understanding of the course content improved. This coming from students who have rarely felt academic success most of their lives is fantastic and exciting feedback!
After taking eCredit, understanding of content improved

After taking eCredit, understanding of content improved

This improvement in learning didn’t merely happen via Compass. It happened within the context of our eCredit Model. While the content is online, 87% of students selected that they benefited from the presence of an instructor. Wow!
Students benefited from the presence of an instructor

Students benefited from the presence of an instructor

77% selected they had a positive experience in eCredit and dare I suggest it’s likely related to their teachers of which 80% described eCr teachers as knowledgeable, 64% said they were approachable, 55% selected fun, 79% said instructors kept them working through the course and 48% described them as helpful and supportive.
How students described their eCredit Teachers

How students described their eCredit Teachers

It’s good to hear our toughest customers attributing some of their eCredit success to a combination of quality content and quality programming!

Reflections on the eCredit Blended Model

Developing a blended model for our eCredit program didn’t happen overnight. It’s been years in the making and is always under revision. And that’s why  eCredit continues to be successful because we are always looking at ways to improve the model; to better serve students. This week ended Week 5 in the eCredit Program. Week 5 is the magic week. Basically if a student can make it to the 5th week, they are more than likely progressing well and on track to successfully complete and recover credit. Getting students to commit to work for the first 5 weeks is due to the eCredit teachers diligent efforts– to get struggling students to work in an online course just doesn’t happen by chance– it happens with purposeful implementation of our blended program model. Most people have an outdated view of credit recovery programs, automatically associating it with plug and play and of poor quality all around. Let’s get one thing clear: We do not plug students in front of a computer and get them on their way. The blended learning environment of eCredit is focused on developing students autonomous learning skills. And it helps that we use content that is rigorous and highly customizable with licensed teachers- good teachers. Not only can we insert our own lessons, teacher created videos, written assignments and much more, but we can also mess with the current Compass Learning courses by deleting, reordering and customizing a whole new course. For example, I worked with the district math coordinator last summer to customize a “Jump Start” pre-algebra course made up of 6, 7,8 and 9th grade Algebra standards. Fun!

Before the school year ends, eLearning will purchase to own all Compass core content as well as a number of electives as well as courses from Florida Virtual School.
But good content would be useless if we did not have good people AND design an effective blended model that has factored in (what we believe are) some thoughtful approaches in dealing with the issues that often plague online learning programs.
So the next time someone asks you about eCredit in your district, stand tall and know we’re not like the others- we’re  doing things differently – better!

The eLearning A-Team

If you’ve been reading my posts over the years, you’ve probably noticed me mentioning the “we” and “us” of eLearning— well, truth is when it comes to the eLearning coordination which includes eCredit Recovery programming, it’s just an office of  me  🙂 But I say “we” because I do have people with whom I brainstorm and process and I’d like to think of them as The eLearning A -Team (loved that show). Who are they? Mary Malpezzi, DTS secretary extraordinaire who has been assisting me for the last few years with things related to tracking eCredit fees and  teachers paid time cards and so on. And as of this year, I have the wonderful Melissa Vantine, DMS secretary  dedicated to supporting me on the technical side of eCredit such as building sections in Infinite Campus as well as Regwerks  (online payment system) for the fall. She’s also learning to use Compass Learning Odyssey (provider of our online eCredit curriculum) tools to monitor eCredit student progress (all 170 of them this spring), and share that with teachers in a way that is meaningful to them. Then there is Donna Thompson, Digital Learning Academy Facilitator and licensed counselor, who has been a key person in supporting the coordination of the eCredit Recovery program as well as being an active facilitator and mentor to teachers. And last but not least, there are the program’s amazing teachers, genuinely committed to students’ success and who have each been instrumental in the shaping of the program. But don’t take my word for it, read the biographies and get to know our eCredit program’s brilliant teachers yourself and discover some of St Vrain School’s most dedicated, energetic, and enthusiastic educators! A BIG thanks to each of them!

If you have a credit recovery problem- if no other options exist,  you know where to find us: the eLearning A- Team (If you remember the TV show intro, you’ll get that :))

Click to Learn all about your eCredit Recovery Teachers or read all about them in the box below:

Encouraging Initial Feedback for new eCredit Readiness Approach

eCredit has kicked off another session and counselors are expressing a sound of relief as students across St Vrain take advantage of the eCredit Recovery program and get back on track for graduation. Skyline and Longmont High are the only two schools in the district that run eCredit during the day. Yesterday, I received an email from one of the eCredit facilitators, Margo Miller . Margo and SHS math teacher, Natalie Stotz (also an after school eCredit teacher) are facilitating 3 sections of eCredit during the day at SHS. Margo shared feedback on the new approach to eCredit that I asked them to implement in the during the day program. During the day students at LHS and SHS did not start eCredit work till January 14th and prior to that I requested the teachers at SHS and LHS assign pre-ecredit work (customized content from our Compass customized core courses) to students as Readiness units. The feedback Margo shared from counselors and students is encouraging. As I plan for summer and the new school year of eCredit after-school, one of my hopes is to tack on additional weeks to the current ten week program and implement the Pre-eCredit Readiness. Here’s what Margo shared:

Hi Nawal,

Had an in-house meeting yesterday and heard some really good things about the readiness units.

At the meeting the counselors shared that kids were back reporting to them that they were sure they would be able to do this and they liked what they had seen. The counselors felt good that the kids would be confident going in after having had a taste of what would be expected.
From my kids:
The veterans resented having to spend the time “practicing” yet some admitted they learned good navigation tips or better understood all the things the gradebook could tell them, and one admitted actually trying on the pre-test had proved to be amazingly rewarding.

The newbies had the chance to get their feet wet and it opened their eyes about the format, the timing, and the rigor. I was glad to be able to field specific questions for them that would impact their progress later.
I think it was a good thing and so glad you tried it.

Augmented Reality at Sunset Middle School


This morning I met with Michelle, Faye, Universal Middle School facilitator located at Sunset Middle School. We worked on ways to customize content in Compass Learning for her students. But before we began we had to talk about the door decorating contest happening at Sunset Middle Schooland I reminisced over my middle school teaching days. She and her UMS students had gone for a “Winter Wonderland” theme (top left) You couldn’t miss the festively decorated doors- one after the other. One in particular, a winner from previous years had  Christmas music playing outside the door (top center and right).

So we got to work, reviewed online content, discussed standards and took notes. Good stuff. But the best part was what I learned from Michelle today.

Are you ready for this brave new world moment? Here it is: At one moment we began discussing Art and she mentioned their amazing Art teacher , Donna Goodwin and the work she has done in planning for Sunset’s  Academics & Arts Extravaganza happening tonight . One thing in particular that the art teacher had done was that she had added Auras to students art work. Yes “auras”.  At least that’s what the app that Michelle introduced me to calls it. What am I talking about?  Well it’s what the App Aurasma refers to what it uses to overlay images. Michelle Faye has dubbed it the Happy Potter App. Remember the still images in newspapers in Harry Potter were overlayed with videos? This app is sort of like that. Aurasma claims to be the world’s first free visual browser and leading augmented reality platform. How does it work?  “Aurasma uses advanced image and pattern recognition to blend the real-world with rich interactive content such as videos and animations called “Auras”.”

So I had to see it in action. The video below is of the app in action. The teacher opened the app, focused on art work, and one after the other, for each art work’s overlay, a recorded video of each student discussing their work automatically started playing. So tonight when parents perused the art work at the extravaganza, parents could use the app on their smart phones, hold the phone to the picture and listen to each student share their work. Way to Go Sunset! Thank you Michelle for sharing this fantastic tool. Oh the possibilities!!

I’ve been  home for an hour and already Aurasmatized my son, tree and dog!

Aurasma in Action at Sunset Middle School

Aurasma in Action at Sunset Middle School



St Vrain Valley District Closes Achievement Gap Through eCredit Recovery Program: A Compass Learning Article

Check out the article here St Vrain Valley District Closes Achievement  Gap Through eCredit Recovery Program



eCredit Biology Teacher’s First Dance with eCredit

As a teacher that had not heard of the SVVSD eCredit recovery program until earlier this year, I had an opportunity this semester to learn so much about this very successful program.  I started working on customizing Biology units and labs early this summer and am still working on refining it.
When eCredit started this September some of my eCredit students recovering Biology came to the program with a rather negative attitude; however, within weeks they found themselves finding great success at becoming autonomous learners.  Part of the expectation as a facilitator was to deliver a learning experience that built autonomous learning skills in students. In addition to our culture of community and autonomy, students found the online coursework very motivating because they could test out of curriculum they understood and found the harder they worked, the faster they would recover their credit.  Each of them had a individualized plan generated by the online course work that allowed them to work at their own pace.  As students completed the program, the students remaining worked even harder to complete their course work.  Biology, as a course had a great challenge to overcome in having students fulfill the hands-on lab requirement portion of the class. Housed after-school at Student Service’s Digital Learning Lab, students are able to successfully complete labs. Students found the hands- on labs to be the perfect break from the online curriculum. I put together the labs  for each unit over the summer and adapted them from labs used in general classrooms throughout the district. The lab  procedures were adapted to be more individualized and the materials were adapted to be done on a smaller scale. Each unit has 2-3 required labs that students can work on to break-up their time in the classroom.  With my facilitation and direct instruction, students were able to work on different labs in different units on their own.
I am a great supporter of the eCredit program; it gives students the opportunity to get credit for what they know and work at their own pace on the material they struggle with. I am proud to join the eCredit team.

eCredit Spring 2012 Kick Off

I cannot believe we are approaching a new year and a new eCredit session. It feels like just yesterday that my eLearning department of one was scrambling to set up regwerks for online registration, forms for in person registration, coordinating locations for after-school ecredit, negotiating start dates for during the day eCredit at SHS, setting up sections in Infinite Campus, and then updating the website – not to mention researching and preparing for the ecredit teachers professional development day. Over the last few weeks I’ve been immersed in getting the spring session ready and am happy to report that eCredit Spring is set up and ready for registration next week.
Some things to keep in mind about the program 1) eCredit is only for students who have taken and failed the course which they are recovering. 2) This is a blended learning setting: this means this is an online course which requires face to face attendance after school up to twice a week for every course being recovered (More than one course = 4 days of attendance a week). 3) Seniors and some juniors with counselor recommendation may recover two courses (1 credit) and only attend twice a week.
eCredit Spring after school registration opens up December 10 and closes January 21.
Locations: OCHS and FHS computer labs with specific days and times 
Go to the updated and revamped eCredit site www.ecreditrecovery.com to learn more.

Schools running eCredit during the day (SHS and brand new LHS): registration opens December 10 and closes January 14th 
During the day program at SHS and LHS starts : January 14th – March 22nd
Find registration forms, fees and more information at www.ecreditrecovery.com