There are several causes to why the students did not pass the state standardized test in mathematics and in language arts. It is strongly believe that the students were not adequately prepared for the test because they had not been completing the required assignments and attending the online classes offered by their teachers. Their lack of School Improvement 7 participation in the class, has lead them to a failing test score because if they had not completed the assignments in their learning management system, then there was no way for them to be adequately prepared for the materials on the tests. The course materials that are found in the learning management system are closely related to the state bench marks and are closely aligned with the state requirements.
There are several reasons that students may not complete work in their online classes. These reasons include lack of motivation, lack of parental guidance, computer issues and problems that stop them from logging in, lack of ability, medical issues or problems, social problems, or a number of other reasons.
Relationship of the Problem to Literature
There are many reasons that students may not be passing the standardized tests. The main reason within this online school is because of the lack of engagement on the students' part to complete the required lessons, activities, and courses. However, research has shown some other factors that may be playing a role in the high failure rates experienced by the district; and these should not be ignored. Maybe the tests are too long for the students. Maybe the students are experiencing high levels of testing anxiety and are unable to concentrate on the tests. Maybe the schools are not teaching to the standards. All of these and more could all be probable reasons other than lack of engagement as to why students are not passing the tests.
Many public, private, and online schools face similar situations. Many of their students are not passing the standardized tests. However, there are several different reasons students fail the tests in other schools. Some schools are even going as far as School Improvement 8 changing the number of questions that that a students has to answer correctly. "Fearing that thousands of students would fail the new test and be held back a grade, and that hundreds of schools could face penalties under the federal No Child Left Behind law, the some schools have voted to reduce the number of questions that students must answer correctly to pass it, to 20 out of 36, from 24" (Dillion). Although, this is probably solution, it does not solve the over all problem.
Another probable cause to low or failing scores may be high levels of test anxiety among students. Many schools teach students to the test. They teach in such a way that the student only focuses on what they need to know to pass the test and this creates a lot of test anxiety for the student. "Howard White, 38, of Soquel said when he asks his daughter about tests, she "typically talks about 'what she needs to know to pass,' which is so frustrating as a parent. I would hope schools expect more than that. I do." (Tobin).
Finally, the content is questionable. Are students not passing the test because the schools are not teaching the materials that are found on the tests? In most schools, the curriculum is carefully aligned to the state standards. "The state's curriculum is a guideline for instruction that helps teachers, students, and parents know what topics must be covered and mastered for a particular course. The curriculum establishes the minimum standards, and does not prohibit systems, schools, or teachers from adding material to it. Some systems may have curricula of their own, but they must include everything that the state requires." (Georgia Department of Education). Therefore, it is evident that most curriculums that are used in schools are aligned to the state standards. The state requires
School Improvement 9 schools to teach to the standards and they are in constant review of the materials the schools and the teachers are using to teach the students.
Lack of student motivation and engagement in the online class is a large reason why students do or do not pass the state required standardized tests. There are many factors that contribute to students' interest and level of engagement in learning, and teachers have little control over many of those factors (Lumsden, 1994). However, research has shown that teachers can influence student motivation; that certain practices do work to increase time spent on task; and that there are ways to make assigned work more engaging and more effective for students at all levels (Anderman & Midgley, 1998; Dev, 1997; Skinner & Belmont, 1991).
Anticipated Outcomes and Evaluation Instruments
Goals and Expectations
The main goal of this online school district is to have at least 75% of the 10th grade students passing the state standardized math and language arts test by next school year. The goal of 95% passage rate is an anticipated goal for the following school year. These percentages are what the state is requiring of the school to avoid No Child Left Behind penalties and state take overs next year. It is the goal of each and every teacher to get students engaged and working within their math and language courses. It is believed that if the students are completing assignments with passing grades, then their test scores will reflect their hard dedicated work efforts. In addition to these main goals, several smaller goals were set for the online school which include:
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Requiring participation in all online classes. A grade will be given for participation in these classes.
Students will be placed on pace dates. This means that certain assignments will have required deadline which must be met.
Students will work together in an online cooperative environment. Each student will be part of a learning team.
An increase of teachers will be added to the staff in order to lower student-teacher ratios. This will allow students and teachers to have more one on one interaction.
Students will not be allowed to enroll in elective courses until their core math and language arts courses are successfully completed.
Students who do not engage in the class will be in danger of expulsion due to truancy.
As outlined in the list above, the foremost outcome of the student engagement plan is to have at least 70% of all 10th grade students passing both the math and the language arts state required standardized testing. In addition to increasing the passage rates on the tests, it is hoped that the students will all be engaged in completing required coursework that is necessary for graduation purposes. Above all, it is hoped that the students will learn the materials and apply them immediately to their everyday lives and that the students gain pride and honor in the hard work and dedication that was put forward on their part in order to complete the coursework.
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The success of required engagement will be measured by the next testing report that comes from the state after the administration of the tests. If the student engagement project is successful, an increase in test scores on both the mathematics and language arts standardized test should be evident.
It is hoped that these following goals will produce the following outcomes:
All students enrolled in a particular class will be engaged and working on their assignments.
All students will submit assignments by pace dates and will have a minimum of a 70% passage rate on all assignments. Any assignment not meeting 70% will have to be redone and resubmitted.
Students will take the state required standardized test in mathematics and language arts and pass both tests with a minimum of 70%.
Students will develop a sense of pride and ownership knowing that they completed the class with a passing grade.
Measurement of Outcomes
The measurement of outcomes for the increased student engagement project will be closely monitored by teachers and staff through an ongoing process. Each week, students will be required to submit assignments and attend online class sessions. If a student fails to submit assignments by targeted pace date or fails to attend the online class sessions, then the teacher will immediately contact the student and work with one on one to get the student back on track.
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In addition, teachers will grade and return all assignments within 48 hours of receipt. The graded assignments will contain detailed comments and feedback. Each student will review the feedback and correct the work if so desired. Teachers will also provide monthly progress reports for each student. This is so that students will know exactly where they are in their studies and which areas need more work.
Each month, every teacher will be required to submit a report of…