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Running head: CCPS VIRTUAL SCHOOL CONSULTANT PROJECT 1

EDTC 650 Assignment 4:

CCPS Virtual School Consultant Project

Samantha L. Biskach

University of Maryland, University College


Running head: CCPS VIRTUAL SCHOOL CONSULTANT PROJECT 2

Introduction

With regards to Caroline County Public Schools (CCPS), this rural district in Maryland

has a positive reputation for motivating and challenging students to attain educational

excellence (Caroline County Public Schools, 2017). Though established in a country setting,

this district has come so far in providing its students with educational opportunities of state-wide

distinction. With ten schools housed in the county, approximately 5600 students and more than

380 professional staff members work together for the betterment of Eastern Shore education

(Caroline County Public

Schools, 2017). Currently,

five elementary schools, two

middle schools, two high

schools, and one

career/technology center

offers programs for k-12

students that will prepare them

for life after graduation. Figure 1 CCPS Demographics (Caroline County Public Schools, 2017)

Within recent years, CCPS embraced the Common Core State Standards adopted by the

Maryland State Department of Education. With the standards, curriculum changes have been

made to ensure students are college and career ready by the conclusion of their 12th grade year.

Standards such as CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.6.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to

produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others state students

must have experiences using technology to investigate topics and produce writing (Common

Core State Standards Initiative, 2017). This is merely one sample of a Language Arts standard
Running head: CCPS VIRTUAL SCHOOL CONSULTANT PROJECT 3

that would effectively promote the use of online programs through a virtual school platform

within CCPS instruction.

The status of virtual schools in the United States and CCPS

According to DiPietro, Ferdig, Black, & Presto (2010), teaching and learning in K-12

virtual schools has grown in popularity since their inception in 1996 (DiPietro, Ferdig, Black, &

Presto, M, 2010, p. 10). The idea of providing virtual schools to students is not a novice idea, but

in Caroline County, this is a territory that has yet to be explored. As an additional avenue to

supporting student learning, providing a virtual school curriculum to students interested would

boost the achievement of CCPS and give students opportunities to acquire knowledge that may

not have been available otherwise. As defined by Wang & Decker (2014), the term of virtual

schools encapsulates full-time and supplementary virtual schools, as well as virtual schools

administered by an array of entities including state level, college and universities, consortium,

and for-profit providers (Wang & Decker, 2014, p.4). Providing a county-based, state-financed

virtual school through CCPS is an efficacious decision for furthering student learning.

Through virtual education, students who are unable to attend a traditional setting will not

fall behind their peers. With the use of online studies in the k-12 setting, virtual schools can

offer flexibility to students who may have difficulty accessing or attending traditional schools, or

as an alternative to homeschooling for parents who elect not to enroll their children in traditional

brick and mortar schools (Institute of Education Sciences, 2015). Caroline County is an idyllic

district for education, but adopting the use of a virtual school will bring even more options to the

small region of Maryland. During the 2013-2014 school year, twenty-eight states and the

District of Columbia reported having one or more virtual schools for a total of 478 virtual

schools in the U.S. (Institute of Education Sciences, 2015). With only a few years later, this
Running head: CCPS VIRTUAL SCHOOL CONSULTANT PROJECT 4

statistic is growing to fit the needs of modern societys learners. In this day in age, a minimum of

a high school degree is critical for successful transition into adulthood. Having a strong

foundation in a k-12 education will promote students to selecting career paths that either involve

a university level education, military service, or a trade that will support their living. Therefore,

Caroline County Public Schools must improve in the way of providing alternate avenues of

education through this evolving means of educating young scholars digitally.

Recommended virtual school model and implementation plan

Within Caroline County Public schools, a fully-online option with synchronous

classroom sessions must be provided to the districts students. Students may register for online

classes as an alternative for attending one of the ten provided brick and mortar institutions CCPS

presently offers. Though the target audience for this form of digital education will be students

who are on home-hospital, attend alternative school for behavioral reasons, or for students with

cases of school anxiety, all students may have the option to register for the completely online

school. The Caroline County Virtual School (CCVS) will include all components of a traditional

setting, complete with teachers, administration, and guidance counselors. However, tech-

personnel will also be hired full-time to assist with any issues or questions students or staff may

have about using the technology. Employment for CCVS will be similar to the hiring process of

brick and mortar educators. However, those hired for the online positions must be highly-

qualified in their field of study and have a strong background in using technology for educational

purposes. Teaching in the traditional setting for at least 3 years would be recommended for

teachers looking to be hired as an online educator. In addition, CCVS will provide curriculum for

grades k-12, should parents and students choose to join the digital program at any time

throughout their educational experience.


Running head: CCPS VIRTUAL SCHOOL CONSULTANT PROJECT 5

Much like Caroline County Public Schools is funded as a public institution in Maryland,

the Caroline County

Virtual School will be

financed in a similar

manner. It has been said

that full-time virtual

schools inherently have a


Figure 2 CCPS Financial Information (Caroline County Public Schools, 2017)
tremendous cost advantage

when it

comes to facilities, operations, transportation, and food services (Miron &Urschel, 2012). The

CCVS will be of little additional cost than that of schools already housed in Caroline County.

Funds for CCVS will come from a

combination of Unrestricted State

Revenue and County Revenue to

make certain the online curriculum is

well-supported (Caroline County Public

Schools, 2017). In order to attend

digitally-based classes, students will


Figure 3 Google Classroom Used for Course Completion in the
receive a county-issued laptop that will CCVS

be their main resource for attending class online. Using the already instituted initiative of Google

Apps for Education (GAFE) and Google Classroom in the CCPS district, students will complete

coursework, collaborate with classmates, and conference with teachers from the comfort of their

own home.
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During the 2017-2018 school year, this will be considered the pilot year for county

implementation. With a year to set a foundation, Caroline County Public School staff will be

able to become more accustomed to the digital format. A total of 100 students will have the

option to register for fully online classes through the Caroline County Virtual School. This pilot

year will serve only grades 9-12, with subsequent years providing middle and elementary

students access by the 2018-2019 school year. A total of 4 English teachers, 4 Mathematics

teachers, 2 History teachers, 2 Science teachers, 1 World Languages teacher, and a

Health/Physical Education teacher will be hired to support the high school students and provide

Maryland state curriculum for all learners attending online. These educators will also have access

to Professional Development opportunities online that are provided through the Caroline County

school district. With support for both students and teachers, the CCVS will be fully functional by

the major roll-out of all grades in the 2018-2019 school year.

Overcoming challenges through specific virtual school criteria

With all new beginnings there is the possibility of obstacles that could inhibit a virtual

school from running perfectly. Challenges of the Caroline County Virtual School could come in

a variety of forms. However, being proactive instead of having to be reactive is key for

successful implementation. Initial challenges for smooth running would primarily include

technology issues and/or the teachers ability to create more learner-centered, facilitative forms

of teaching when compared to traditional teaching practices (Barbour, 2015). The online world

of teaching, though similar to brick and mortar, does have a gap when it comes to student-teacher

interactions if not handled with correctly. For example, since the CCVS will be synchronous,

teachers will provide students with live-chats and live video-streaming using Google Hangouts.

Daily attendance will be taken similar to the traditional setting to keep track of when a student
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may miss class. Whether through a whole-group instruction to individual help on virtual lessons,

all students will be given the academic support they require. Additionally, as a suggestion to

counteract the technology issues that may occur, 100% access to tech-support will be provided

by the 8 hired technicians through during-school hours and after-school hours. Should tech-help

be needed, students and teacher may either call tech-support, email, or speak to a live technical

via Google Hangouts.

In an effort to provide students with a credible online education, using the SREB

checklist for evaluating online courses is key to ensuring that online courses provide students

with access to quality instruction and resources (Checklist for Evaluating Online Courses,

2009). A total of 5 criteria will be used by the Caroline County Public School staff to develop

courses that adhere to state learning standards and allow for effective pedagogy for all

instructors. The 5 criteria taken from SREB and justification for the criteria will include the

following (Checklist for Evaluating Online Courses, 2009):

1. The course goals and objectives are measureable and clearly state what the participants

will know or be able to do at the end of the course.

To justify virtual criteria 1, the teacher must develop all lessons and units that are clear for all

students. Students must be able to understand what the lesson will be about and how they should

be able to show if they learned the material before the lesson or unit even commences. This will

ensure the student and teacher fully comprehend the reasoning behind the instruction and what

the end result should be.

2. The course content and assignments are aligned with the states content standards or

nationally accepted content standards set for Advanced Placement courses, technology,

computer science, or other courses whose content is not included in the state standards.
Running head: CCPS VIRTUAL SCHOOL CONSULTANT PROJECT 8

To justify virtual criteria 2, all credible schools in the United States must adhere to standards for

learning. The Caroline County Virtual School will use the Common Core State Standards

adopted by Maryland. This is not unlike the brick and mortar schools of CCPS. Students

participating in the virtual school will complete assignments aligned to the standards and take the

PARCC exams at the end of the school year to present the knowledge they have gained.

3. Course design reflects a clear understanding of student needs and incorporates varied

ways to learn and multiple levels of mastery of the curriculum.

To justify virtual criteria 3, all students, whether learning online or in a classroom, must have

lessons that are differentiated to their learning styles and needs. Individual support will be given

to all students and IEP (Individualized Education Plans) will be provided for learners requiring

the extra support.

4. The course provides opportunities for students to engage in higher-order thinking,

critical reasoning activities, and thinking in increasingly complex ways.

To justify virtual criteria 4, lessons and units will be developed by teachers that not only align to

the content and grade level standards, but also provide opportunities for students to challenge

themselves in their learning. The school setting will be learner-centered and allow students to

engage in studies that allow them to grow as learners in the 21st century. Assignments and

lessons will be provided to challenge students in an attainable manner.

5. The course provides opportunities for appropriate instructor-student interaction to foster

mastery and application of material and a plan for monitoring that interaction.

To justify virtual criteria 5, the teacher and student must not lose a sense of relationship when it

comes to learning. Since physical meetings are not a part of the synchronous CCVS learning

environment, a variety of opportunities to communicate with teachers and peers will be provided.
Running head: CCPS VIRTUAL SCHOOL CONSULTANT PROJECT 9

Through the use of Google Classroom discussions, Google Hangouts video chat, email, phone,

and other forms of real-time communication, students will have continuous access to

collaboration and cooperative learning.

Conclusion

Due to the 21st century becoming more complex and digital with the workforce, it is vital

for students to achieve at least a high school degree before maturity. Many times, families are not

able to participate in the traditional brick and mortar setting due to reasons of illness, military

travel, behavior, and other like hindrances. In turn, this causes students to accumulate a mass of

absences, miss vital class instruction, and do inadequately on course work and standardized tests.

Albeit many families appear to approach the virtual schools as a temporary service, Caroline

County will provide access of virtual schooling to students who would like to attend online class

all years of their grade-school education (Miron &Urschel, 2012). During the 2017-2018 school

year, initiating the Caroline County Virtual School will be a positive attribute to the rural Eastern

Shore county. By providing Caroline County students the opportunity to attend a virtual school,

this will open doors for all learners that may not have been able to approach, let alone enter

through to the realm of academic success.


Running head: CCPS VIRTUAL SCHOOL CONSULTANT PROJECT 10

Access to Multimedia Presentation:

Direct Pow Toon Link: https://www.powtoon.com/c/blBdiivqk3W/1/m

YouTube upload of Pow Toon: https://youtu.be/iNPWY9R3hCc


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References

Barbour, M. K. (2015). Real-Time Virtual Teaching: Lessons Learned from a Case Study in a

Rural School. Online Learning, 19(5), 54-68.

Caroline County Public Schools. (2017). Home. Retrieved from http://www.cl.k12.md.us/

Checklist for Evaluating Online Courses. Southern Regional Educational Board. Retrieved

January 19, 2009

from:http://publications.sreb.org/2006/06T06_Checklist_for_Evaluating-Online-

Courses.pdf

DiPietro, M., Ferdig, R. E., Black, E. W., & Presto, M. (2010). Best Practices in Teaching K-12

Online: Lessons Learned from Michigan Virtual School Teachers. Journal Of Interactive

Online Learning, 9(3), 10-35.

Institute of Education Sciences. (2015). Virtual schools: measuring access to online and

secondary education in online environments. Retrieved from

https://nces.ed.gov/blogs/nces/post/virtual-schools-measuring-access-to-elementary-and-

secondary-education-in-online-environments

Miron, G., Urschel, J. L., & University of Colorado at Boulder, N. C. (2012). Understanding and

Improving Full-Time Virtual Schools: A Study of Student Characteristics, School

Finance, and School Performance in Schools Operated by K12 Inc. [with Appendices].

Wang, Y & Decker, J. (2014). Can virtual schools thrive in the real world. Retrieved from

http://scholarworks.gsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1032&context=eps_facpub
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Assignment 4 Grading Rubric