FARMINGTON – In a continuing effort to meet the needs of every student in the district, Davis School District is offering a variety of educational options online.
Davis School Board heard a report last month, on Davis Connect, a program for kindergarten through sixth grades, and Utah Students Connect, online classes offered for students in ninth through twelfth grades.
Annual enrollment has hovered just under 50 for students in Davis Connect, and reached almost 700 for those in higher grades.
The courses were established to meet varying needs of students. Some are student athletes whose training schedules and competitions don’t work with a traditional school, others may be homeschooled. Students in special education, students with serious allergies or students wanting to save school time for elective courses, have also signed up.The courses can also be used for credit recovery.
“We serve all populations,” said Belinda Kuck, assistant director of curriculum for the district.
“Students can go in and out anytime and a lot transition back into their boundary school.”
Sue Winkler, administrator of online programs for Davis School District, told the board that 90 percent of students who take the courses pass, something far above the 50 percent success rate of other online courses, she said.
“We feel the difference comes in a term beginning and a term ending,” she said, “and in highly qualified teachers monitoring and following and mentoring.”
Courses are also offered in summer, where 98 percent pass, she said.
Students can check out an iPad and then everything is done online. Quizes can be filled out, photographed and emailed to teachers.
Teachers must respond in 24 hours to student input.
Final tests are proctored and must be taken in person to ensure students receive no outside help.
Parents are the teaching assistants in this system, said Rebecca Reeder, a teacher and online specialist for the system, who works with 40 students. Parent involvement is the key to student success, she said, and parent meetings and online contacts allow students to be assessed and addressed.
Elementary teachers utilize web chats to read to students daily and virtual white boards to connect with students.
Daily socialization is important, Reeder told the board. And once a month, elementary students are invited to particpate in trips to museums, art lessons, ballet performances, parks or science experiments.
The curriculum for the younger grades was outlined by Davis educators and is consistent with core standards. Its website, davisconnectonline.org, encourages students to “engage, explore, excel.”
Course work for the older grades is available through a consortium of Utah schools. Students can take up to two classes over their normal load, according to the website, utahstudentsconnect.org. The curriculum also meets new core standards.
“It’s a tremendous resource,” said Kuck. “It’s a new adventure with Utah Students Connect.”
“We want to provide kids with a high quality education so they’re ready for whatever their next step is,” said Kuck.
Board members expressed support of the online program.
“I’m completely impressed,” said Tamara Lowe, board president, who has been both a teacher and a principal. “I could just see the kids in my class who this would work for,” she said.