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Small district makes big gains with online curriculum, support

When Mechanicsburg Exempted Village Schools opened its state-of-the-art campus in 2007, A+ Anywhere Learning System by K12 was a major part of the landscape.

Within four years, the elementary building’s “School Improvement Status”—assigned by the Ohio Department of Education because of poor student performance—was replaced with “Excellent,” and the district received its first-ever “Excellent with Distinction,” the state’s highest rating.

“Teachers rely on A+ to help struggling and credit deficient students, leading to an increase in the rate of on-time graduation. We also use A+ in working with advanced students, either during regular class time, intervention or “no-new-instruction” periods,” said Danielle Prohaska, the district’s director of teaching and learning.

The small rural school district, located about 30 miles from Columbus, has 950 students in two buildings: K-6 and 7-12. For years, both schools struggled to meet Adequate Yearly Progress requirements, but in 2010-11, all AYP goals were met in all subgroups. Both buildings and the district achieved “Exceeded Value Added” growth for the 2010-11 school year and Mechanicsburg ranked 24th out of 609 districts in the amount of overall student gain as measured by standardized state assessments, according to Mechanicsburg’s 2011 Annual Report.

In addition, the district’s Performance Index—which indicates the number of students who score proficient or higher in state assessments—grew significantly. “Since the implementation of A+ in 2007, our Performance Index has steadily increased from 91.4 in 2006-2007 to 95.7 in 2008-2009 and 100.6 in 2010-2011,” said Prohaska, who noted the state mean is 90 and the top number is 120.

The A+ courseware includes more than 5,000 lessons, plus assessment, alignment and curriculum management tools. The web-based program is based on research and objectives and aligns with state and national standards, and Mechanicsburg uses a variety of courses, including Learning Letter Sounds, Math and Social Studies.

At the high school, the A+ curriculum is used by students to supplement in-school study, for credit recovery, and for summer school intervention or practice. For grades K-12, lessons are integrated into traditional classrooms or used in learning centers and intervention periods during the school day.

“A+ supports the district’s vision for instruction: prioritizing learning for all students,” Prohaska said. “A+ fits perfectly in our system of daily intervention based on student data and need. And it supports our high-achieving students, as well.”

It also saves the district time and resources by providing targeted learning without requiring teachers to individualize every lesson plan. A+ assesses students and matches them with appropriate content.

“These features help teachers feel supported in the classroom and enable them to provide differentiated instruction, create small study groups, assign appropriate independent learning and challenge students who are advanced,” Prohaska said.

She said widespread use of A+ makes it easy for any student, regardless of ability, to work at his or her own pace with confidence and dignity.

“A+ is part of every student’s regular school routine,” Prohaska said. “So a student who is struggling could use A+ to go over lessons already reviewed, and an advanced student could be learning something new, all while the teacher is working one-on-one with someone else.”

To learn more about A+ Anywhere Learning System by K12 please visit