Lebanon High School: Lighting the Path to Personalized Learning
The Getting Smart team spent the last year exploring next gen schools. With support from Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC), Tom, Caroline, Carri and Megan set off to learn more about the forward-leaning leaders who are building and inspiring new models of teaching and learning. Our report, Lighting the Path to Personalized Learning: Inspiring Stories from Next Gen Schools, highlights three attributes of personalized learning through the stories of the schools they visited and learned from:
- High Expectations for College Readiness
- Personalized Learning for All Students
- Optimized for Scale
We shared stories of how three next gen schools are optimized for scale—how they are designed to grow and how they are designed to be financially sustainable. This is the story of how Lebanon High School is optimized for scale.
Part of being a scalable school means being ready to translate ideas into practical and working models. NGLC launch grant recipient Lebanon School District is a complete redesign that started with an in-house pilot to try out blended and personalized learning with eight teachers and 214 students before taking it to the entire student body of 1,300. (See the Lebanon School District’s NGLC grantee profile.) The medium-sized district has an 81 percent low-income student population and was looking for a better way to educate its high school-aged students.
The goal of Lebanon High School was two-fold: first, to provide cost-effective learning that was much more personalized than it ever had been, and, second, to show that transforming a “mainstream” school to blended learning was not only possible but very doable. Indeed, the district has been able to implement their model without seeking state policy waivers or renegotiating union contracts.
Giovino explained to Megan that Lebanon High School started the pilot by asking which teachers wanted to be involved; it has grown the initial 10 percent involved in 2012-2013 to 64 percent in 2013-2014. They have also become the first 1:1 school in their county and act as a hybrid learning nexus regionally. The school operates on a block plan and offers dual enrollment—high school and college—credit to key classes including human biology and English composition.
Using a rotational blended model, their goal is to “give students a rich learning experience” that encompasses everything from traditional learning, to experiences similar to those in college, to opportunities to develop 21st-century skills, to collaborative experiences including working with peers to solve problems.
Beginning with a pilot program has allowed the school district to extend the reach of the blended and personalized experience. The demonstration of impact and the initial success of the pilot resulted not only in an increase in support for the project, but also a shift that is spreading throughout the district and beyond.
Lebanon has been recognized as a model school by the intermediate unit of 26 local schools and is now host to hybrid learning visitors from all over the East Coast. They are also one of the founding districts of the Pennsylvania Hybrid Learning Institute, a network of 33 Pennsylvania schools seeking a more personalized approached to learning for their students. The group, supported by Kevin Dellicker’s consulting firm, takes a collaborative approach working with multiple schools simultaneously to create economies of scale and facilitate cooperation. They use a step-by-step continuous improvement process that is standardized and replicable yet results in customized design plans for each school. They collect data to help schools course correct. (See Hybrid Learning Showing Results, Achieving Scale in Pennsylvania.)
Read the stories of other next gen schools in Lighting the Path to Personalized Learning: Inspiring Stories from Next Gen Schools.