Before we began working with the district, Lowell High
School had used a less expensive online course product
for credit recovery, with mixed results. That’s why, during
the first year of the countywide effort, many students felt
like the courses were more difficult. But the monitoring
we provided, along with better interactivity in the courses,
allowed students to be successful.
Using credit recovery, regular courses, and electives,
Lowell has integrated online courses for all students.
Student Jaren Nichols sums up the advantage of
online learning for him:
My school does not offer a Spanish II class, and I need
another year of Spanish to get into a four-year univer-
sity. Without these online courses, I wouldn’t be able
to get into college as easily.
Now in the second year of development, Lowell educators are establishing criteria for students who want to
participate in the program. Students must have a teacher’s
recommendation, and juniors and seniors get first priority
for credit recovery courses, but younger students can also
take them as space allows.
District Superintendent Aaron Brown looks forward to
the day when staff teach online content themselves.
Several years ago, Lowell educators experimented with
sharing Spanish courses via a statewide interactive video-
conference (IVC) service. That program “didn’t take off,”
Brown said, “probably due to the supervision issues associ-
ated with different schedules at different sites.” Unlike IVC,
online courses offer more opportunities for students to work
and interact with each other asynchronously. Brown said:
Getting more of our teachers using online resources
will help us serve students at both ends of the spec-
trum—enrichment courses that allow capable students
to move ahead and other components of online learn-
ing that help students who are in the alternative-
In addition to full courses online, Lowell teachers use an
online supplementary math program in the computer lab to
differentiate curriculum. The math teacher, Liam Pilong, designs the courses, and students complete them at their own
pace. Testing is proctored at school. Pilong has found this to
be a good way to serve students who need a wider scope of
resources than grade-level materials, and it’s less expensive
than buying a full suite of supplementary materials.
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