by Kevin Dellicker
The PA Hybrid Learning Institute (PA HLI) is a new group of educators from across Pennsylvania organized to promote transformational blended learning models in mainstream schools. Launched in 2011 with seed financing from public and private organizations including Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13 and Dellicker Strategies, PA HLI currently oversees the most extensive hybrid learning pilot program in the nation.
The term “hybrid learning” was coined by the Clayton Christensen Institute to describe new blended models that provide personalized instruction to students in traditional school settings. In contrast to more “disruptive” models that create entirely new systems and structures, hybrid models improve existing schools by providing careful combinations of traditional teaching and new technologies.
When implemented correctly, hybrid learning can have an immediate positive impact on student performance. During the 2012-13 academic year, PA HLI tracked the outcomes of the first 15 hybrid learning pilot programs in Pennsylvania. The team collected and analyzed information from 2,197 students, 86 teachers and 84 parents. It also reviewed state achievement data and academic growth reports where applicable and available.
In the pilot districts, 88 percent of schools achieved higher academic performance in their hybrid classes compared to non-hybrid (traditional) classes in the same district or statewide benchmarks. Three-quarters of pilot districts realized higher academic achievement in their hybrid classes, and all hybrid learning pilot schools met or exceeded state standards for academic growth.
Individual schools experienced hybrid learning success in many different ways:
- Lebanon High School hybrid students passed the Keystone Exams at rates almost three times higher than their non-hybrid (traditional) counterparts in the same school. Hybrid classrooms beat traditional classrooms in all assessed subjects including Biology, Literature and Algebra.
- Pottstown High School students started the year scoring 17.6 percentage points below the state average on the Keystone Algebra Exams. After a year of hybrid learning, they scored 3.5 points above- a 21 point swing reflected in a maximum score of 100 for academic growth in math.
- Lower Dauphin High School hybrid math students scored proficient or advanced on the Keystone Algebra Exams at a rate 10.3 percentage points higher than the state average.
- Dallas High School achieved state standards for academic growth in high school math by using hybrid learning to motivate students who historically struggled with the subject.
- Lancaster Wheatland Middle School hybrid students scored 86 percent advanced or proficient on the Keystone Algebra Exams, a rate more than two times higher than the state average.
- Garden Spot Middle School hybrid students in Eastern Lancaster County School District scored 84 percent proficient or advanced on the seventh Grade PSSA math test and beat growth standards.
- Spring City Hybrid Elementary School students exceeded state standards for academic growth in math and reading using the hybrid program throughout the school building.
Of course, standardized test results are only one measurement of program success. PA HLI collected additional quantitative and qualitative data to evaluate student engagement, parent confidence and teacher satisfaction with hybrid learning. The results exceeded expectations.
For example, schools found that students are more motivated to learn in the hybrid classroom environment. Students said they enjoyed hybrid classrooms more than traditional settings by almost three to one. Most pilot schools also reported better grades in hybrid classrooms.
Parents expressed confidence in hybrid models and approval of their educational outcomes. When asked about their child’s placement in a hybrid learning program, parents were satisfied versus dissatisfied by a ratio of 15 to one. More than three quarters of parents said hybrid learning provided a high-touch, high-quality education for their children.
Teachers found hybrid learning professionally rewarding and instructionally effective. Almost two-thirds of hybrid teachers said they spent the majority of classroom time in small group face-to-face communications with students compared to only eight percent of non-hybrid teachers. Perhaps that is why three-quarters of Lebanon High School teachers said hybrid learning made them a “happier teacher.”
The complete Hybrid Learning Program Review is available online. It provides mounting evidence that hybrid learning improves school performance. These new models of instruction are creating a more personalized learning experience for students and increasing their engagement in the classroom.
As these models develop and improve over time, expect hybrid learning to become a critical tool for providing cost-effective differentiated instruction for schools across Pennsylvania.
With PA HLI at the forefront of these innovations, expect Pennsylvania to maintain and expand its position as a national leader in these exciting new methods of education.
Kevin Dellicker is founder of Dellicker Strategies, a blended learning consulting company based in the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. Dellicker Strategies helps schools adopt innovative technologies and teaching methods to personalize learning and motivate students. Since 2011, Dellicker Strategies has been the lead consulting group to PA HLI.