Fairborn Digital Academy
It is the mission of Fairborn Digital Academy to provide the highest quality online education available and to facilitate the personal and academic excellence of at-risk students, while valuing their individual differences.
Message to Parents/Guardians and Students
The Fairborn Digital Academy (FDA), sponsored by the Fairborn City Schools, officially opened its doors on November 14th, 2002. Our primary purpose is to offer the highest quality online educational program available. Each year we evaluate our student progress and make revisions in our program to provide each student with the best opportunity to be successful.
This year we are offering four distinct programs for high school students: FAST (Fairborn Accelerated Student Team), FIRST (Fairborn Intensive Recovery Student Team), PSEO-Advanced Study Program and our Dual Credit (Credit Flex) Program. We use a variety of online courseware: A+, Gradpoint, and Sinclair Community College to individualize student courses as much as possible. All students will be taking the ACT end of course exams for their English, math and science classes. We will pay for one ACT college entrance exam.
We had 213 students enrolled during this past year, with an average FTE of 0.64 compared to 193 with an average FTE of 0.62 in the previous school year. We continued to increase our number of graduates to 54 last year. Our students graduate as soon as they complete FDA and State requirements. Since we enroll grades 9-12, our students take the Ohio Graduation Tests. Ninety-nine percent of our students take the OGTs. We expect 100% of our students to be tested in the 2012-2013 school year. FDA accountability coaches and directors provide students with tutoring for the Ohio Graduation Tests. They also make personally provide reminders of the dates. Our Black Lane site is used for the testing. We will continue to use this method in 2012-2013. The FDA student attendance rate improved last year, meeting the State goal of at least 90%. We are striving to meet this goal for the 2012-2013 school year.
Last year we improved from the State rating of Continuous Improvement to Effective. We achieved 9 of the 12 indicators, compared to 8 of 12 indicators the previous year. We improved our Performance Index from 84.4 to 95.6. Since we serve as a dropout prevention program for many, we have a difficult time meeting the State’s graduation requirement of 90%. We had a graduation rate of 35.7% last year under the new 4-year rate. Continuous improvement of our graduation rate is the major goal for this year. For the 2010-2011 school year we added additional assessments: DORA for reading and DOMA for math, to improve our ability to provide intervention in these important areas. We are using the State-approved Performance Series from Globalscholars for 2012-13. Last year we expanded the FIRST program to target high school dropouts in Fairborn and in the surrounding area. These credit-deficient high school students now have an additional opportunity to earn the required credits to graduate. We are continuing this program in 2012-2013. FIRST students come to Black Lane twice weekly for assistance in completing their course work successfully. We work with Sinclair Community College to provide our dual credit flex program. This allows a student who is a high achiever to receive as many as two years of college credits. We expect this program to expand each year. We work with the Nike and online courseware to provide PE for our students. The Apple/Nike program is used to improve the health of our students. This program uses the Nike website and other activities to run student challenges to improve student and staff health and wellness. We have two treadmills to allow for PE students to walk inside in inclement weather. Additional curriculum again has been added.
All of our contracted staff is rated by the State as Highly Qualified. Each accountability coach has no more than 20 students, and their objective is to see that each student will complete at least five credits this year. Our coaches work with each student to establish this goal as well as their graduation and after graduation plan. They contact weekly parents/guardians to review student progress towards meeting these goals.
Black Lane Elementary is used as our office, orientation center, intervention location, and educational service center. This year we are open from 8:30 to 4:30 Monday through Friday. For the seventh year we had an intervention lab at the Black Lane Elementary building open to all of our students for tutoring help. This past school year we hired additional interventionists to work with our students and we continued to expand our intervention hours. Our counselor, accountability coaches and principal identify students that need additional assistance each year. They will do this again this year. The accountability coaches have the ability to schedule additional time with their students in our labs for individualized assistance. In addition, we are transitioning from a part-time to a full-time guidance counselor this year.
We at FDA believe that parents play a critical role in the education of their children. We appreciate the support they have already given by the decision to enroll their children in FDA. We also recognize the importance of the follow up educational support they are providing their children and our staff. We mail quarterly progress reports throughout the year.
We use Verizon wireless to allow our students wireless access anywhere to do their work. This year, to improve their accessibility to the Internet, we have upgraded to 4 G netbooks.
NOW AND THE FUTURE
We provide a year ‘round school calendar. This approach allows our students the greatest learning flexibility, as student progress is one of our highest priorities. One challenge is to provide counseling and intervention on a year ‘round basis compared to the traditional nine-month calendar. This past year the FDA contracted a full time facilitator for our FAST and FIRST programs, and one of their roles was that of intervention coordinator. This position is again in place for this year. This year we will have an accountability coach providing tutoring and guidance for every student in each of our programs. Last year we had six part-time coaches working with our FIRST students and eight coaches assigned to our FAST students. This year we are starting with eight accountability coaches for our FIRST program and nine coaches for our FAST program. We have given our guidance counselor the responsibility for being our family service coordinator. She will conduct small group meetings and individual parent/student meetings, and survey all parents and students.
Should you have questions regarding this report, please contact our Principal, Erik Tritsch, or Executive Director, Robert Grimshaw at 937-879-0511.
Section One – Academic Program
The new common core standards serve as the basis for FDA’s curriculum. FDA is part of the State’s Race to the Top program and is actively involved in implementing the changes required by that program. The rationale for this process is to ensure that our students are prepared for state and national testing as well as postgraduate work. We continue to improve our online courses by making them more differentiated each year. Most of our coursework is contracted through A+. After thorough evaluation, using the same standards, we selected the Gradpoint and Sinclair Community College courses.
Due to the fact that our students work online, the fit between the number of standards and the instructional hours is fairly straightforward. The standards are aligned to the students’ online lessons. As they progress through the curriculum, they meet the hourly requirements through regular attendance, participation in chats and discussions, completion of assignments, and ongoing assessment by staff.
One of the goals is to allow our students to progress at their own pace. The FDA learning environment allows students and teachers to engage in both asynchronous and synchronous interactions. Following instruction and completion of work, the student progresses onto the next unit. We provide mandatory intervention as additional support for students who are in jeopardy of not being successful in FDA and thus dropping out altogether. Our dropout rate decreased as a result of this program. This year we are expanding our intervention hours and number of tutors.
For school year the 2004 -2005 we introduced a year ‘round school calendar. This approach allows our students the greatest learning flexibility. The amount of instructional time for our students is 180 days. The student and parent choose which 180 days the student attends. Most of our FDA students decided on the traditional calendar from mid August to early June for the 2011-2012 school year, a trend that continues this year.
Core Principles and Goals for 2011-2012
1) No student will be placed in a high-stakes state mandated testing situation until the student has the skills and understandings to be successful.
2) In FDA, time is the variable, and the outcome is constant.
3) Mastery learning is critical to student success and achievement.
- Class level goal setting will be replaced by individual goal setting strategies. Once assessment and placement of the student is complete, students will work with their parents and accountability coach to determine learning goals each year.
- Students will progress only when they have reached mastery level of at least 80%. Included in this process will be the opportunity to redo assignments in order to reach the mastery level.
- By following this continuous progress model that is tied to state standards and mastery of those standards, the intended result is passage of high stakes state mandated tests and improved achievement.
- Students will take the ACT end of course exams for core courses in grades 9-11.
Explanation of Qualification Levels
The following levels of qualification will be used for coursework that is Satisfactory and for assessments for the FDA’s FIRST program.
A – The student has a complete and detailed understanding of the information important to the topic, AND the student can perform the skills and processes important to the topic fluently. (Demonstrated a deep understanding of lesson concepts)
B – The student has an understanding of the information important to the topic but not in great detail, AND the student can perform the skills or processes important to the topic. (Demonstrated an adequate understanding of lesson concepts)
C – The student has some misconceptions or is missing some information important to the topic but still has a basic understanding of the topic, AND can perform a rough approximation of the skills and processes. (Demonstrated a basic understanding of lesson concepts)
We use a Pass/Fail system with our FAST students. This allows for credit recovery to occur for our students that are more then two grade levels behind their cohort.
Formative feedback is given through coursework assignments. Summative feedback is given in regard to the approved assessments.
The factor that makes this process so effective is that students and parents have an accountability coach contacting them weekly.
These goals will remain the same for the 2012-2013 school year.
Section Two – Financial Reporting
Below is visual and narrative information regarding FDA’s finances
Total Receipts and Expenditures for FY12
Beginning balance $513,166
Receipts Expenditures Balance
$973,738 $925,809 $561,095
We expect, based upon results and what is occurring throughout the state, that our enrollment may continue to grow, but funding for eschools may be reduced. Our five-year forecast is to fiscal year 2016 and depicts these trends. It is based on a slight increase in enrollment and a slight drop in funding. It is an appendix to this document.
Section Three – Faithfulness to the School’s Contract
Student attendance is a critical emphasis, and we continued to refine what attendance meant in a distance-learning environment. Since students had the opportunity to “attend” school 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, documentation of their activities and contacts with their accountability coach was critical. We believe this was and is one of our strengths.
Students were considered “attending” if they did the following each week: had contact with their accountability coaches in a meaningful way, completed assignments, participated in online classroom related discussions, and accessed their classroom environment. We improved to a 90%+ attendance rate. Continuing this rate is a priority.
According to the information we received about the contracted staffing we used through TRECA and Fairborn City Schools, sick days were rarely necessary because of the flexibility of our office schedule. In reality, many of our accountability coaches worked nights and weekends. Thus, the traditional absence model did not adequately measure staff attendance rates for our school. Using the traditional model, our rate was again extremely high at 98+%.
One of the biggest challenges is to determine how to keep our students performing in an online environment. To meet this challenge, we continually work on ways to improve contact with our students. One of the most difficult issues we face is the level of student transience. This factor impacts our state testing results.
Contracting for counseling and intervention services continues to improve our transience issue and the testing results. We had 99% of our students take the OGT. We want to be sure that this continues and that we will have 100%. Our 10th grade students met the standards in all but science. Our contracted accountability coaches worked with these students. To ensure that our students have the ability to perform well in these achievement tests we started a mandatory intervention program for the 2005-06 school year. We continue to upgrade and improve this program.
Parent and Community Involvement
FDA strongly encourages parents and guardians to be actively involved in their child’s education. Last year, each student was required to attend a one-day orientation in the accompaniment of at least one parent/guardian to begin the school year. During this introduction to our online school, both students and adults were guided through a hands-on demonstration of how our school works, how students participate in their classes, and how to communicate with their accountability coaches. This year we have implemented a three-day orientation to give our students a better start in the online environment. We expect this to have an impact on their success. Their assigned accountability coach contacts our parents/guardians each week to communicate the weekly progress of their child. This year we have also added the responsibility of home visits with parents and students.
An additional communication tool added for parents are quarterly reports mailed to homes. This year we will again mail quarterly progress reports.
Our Black Lane office will be open from 8:30 to 4:30 Monday through Friday. We will be open till 7:00 PM on Tuesdays this year as well.
We provided for two parent/accountability coach open house days for the 2011-2012 school year. We added a parent organization supervisor and surveyed all parents. We will do that again this year.
Safe and Orderly Environment
Being mostly an online school requires us to address safety issues in a different way. We have to deal with cyber issues such as inappropriate materials and emails. Thus, safety is a critical part of the FDA student environment. The provided student computers are specifically designed to work in a “closed” environment, yet allowed access to the many resources presented through the Internet. All student communication takes place within the school. Students are not permitted to receive email from non-school entities. Web sites are monitored by software that is installed on each machine. Social opportunities are developed through monitored online chats and discussion boards such as Schoology. Providing a safe online environment continues to be a priority. As we also have FIRST students and other brick and mortar school activities at our location, we have addressed safety issues at Black Lane. We have security, custodial, and evacuation procedures in place.
As in any school, there are students who abuse the privileges they are afforded. This takes a variety of avenues such as inappropriate language when communicating with students and teachers. All students and parent/guardians sign an Acceptable Use Policy when they participated in their FDA orientations. This policy stated that they agree to follow guidelines of appropriate use of the hardware and software. FDA also has adopted a bullying policy. Should students violate these policies, procedures are in place to restrict their access to specific aspects of the school. Their actions can result in suspension from school by our turning off their access. The FDA’s Executive Director and Principal work closely with students and parents when such situations arise. All disciplinary action is documented for future reference if needed. Last year we had no bullying incident.
While there are many reasons that students and parents choose to participate in an online school, we know from parent feedback that one is the desire for a safer environment than experienced in the previous school. We worked hard to meet those expectations for a safe school.
Collegiality and Professionalism
We believe this face-to-face interaction is critical to our success. Our accountability coaches schedule parent/student meetings and make numerous contacts with each of their assigned students each week. Our contracted staff has online access to many support structures including conferences, discussion boards, and administrative email support.
TRECA Digital Academy and Fairborn City Schools support our contracted staff by providing participation in the Local Professional Development Committee, and support of certification and license renewal and upgrading. Our staff is involved in discussions regarding curriculum expectations, aligning the curriculum to the new common core standards as required by the Ohio Department of Education, and enhancing student support structures. We are part of Ohio’s Race to the Top and have had members of our contracted staff attend all activities and meetings related to this program. We are also part of the Battelle for Kids Ohio Value-added High School program, and we send staff to their professional development programs.
The FDA Board of Directors and Officers are committed to the following for 2012-2013:
We will continue to improve the courseware that our students use to meet the common core standards.
We will continue to examine hardware and software for dependability. (The hardware/software issues greatly impact curriculum delivery and student success.) We have upgraded to 4g netbooks for this year. We have added cell phone service for accountability coaches to contact their students.
Because of the diversity of our population and our commitment to provide the best online education, we will continue to modify program, delivery, and instruction in order to increase student achievement and to prepare them for the world of work and a democratic society.
FDA Board of Directors has decided that:
We will hire additional intervention tutors and accountability coaches through Fairborn City Schools and TRECA who will meet face to face with our online students during mandatory intervention. Again for the 2012-2013 school year, any student who needs assistance can come to our lab at Black Lane for help anytime Monday- Friday from 8:30 to 4:30. We believe that our students need extra help beyond online instruction to be successful.
To ensure our online students continue to have uninterrupted access to their school, we will continue to provide more local technology support service by contracting with Verizon, MDECA and the Fairborn City Schools.
For our students to move more quickly and effectively through their coursework, we have replaced desktop computers with wireless laptops, 4G netbooks or iMACs.
We will continue to hire additional personnel as our numbers increase.
The Local Report Card for FDA is available at our 700 Black Lane office in Fairborn and on the website www.ode.state.oh.us
The Audit Report for fiscal year 2012 had no unresolved issues, and a copy of the report is available at the Office of Federal and State Grants Management in the Center of School Finance at ODE and at our 700 Black Lane office.