Texas students make gains with online learning

A new third-party evaluation released recently by PLATO Learning shows that of all students in Cypress-Fairbanks (Cy-Fair) ISD who failed a course in 2008 and then retook it in 2009 using PLATO Secondary Solutions, 84 percent completed and passed the course the second time. Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District, just north of Houston, is Texas’ third largest district with an enrollment of 97,000 students. The district maintains nine high schools, each with at least 3,000 students. Total high school enrollment is approximately 30,000 students.

According to the study, which was independently conducted by the evaluation firm Interactive, Inc., Cy-Fair students earned significantly higher course grades in all content areas when using PLATO Secondary Solutions than they did in the previous academic year. Additionally, performance was improved among all student groups, no matter what their ethnicity, gender or at-risk classification, suggesting that PLATO Secondary Solutions is able to equally help all students learn throughout the entire academic year. PLATO Secondary Solutions is a comprehensive, online learning program that offers flexible program options to keep middle school and high school students engaged as they prepare for high-stakes exams as well as college and careers.

“This independent evaluation clearly illustrates the effectiveness of our credit recovery programs for students who may not otherwise be successful in school,” said Vin Riera, chief executive officer of PLATO Learning. “We’re very pleased that PLATO Secondary Solutions made such an impact in the success Cy-Fair’s 2009 high school graduates. The district has proven to be a thought leader with a remarkable record of best practices in online learning programs.”

In addition to measuring students’ success based on both teacher-assigned course grades and PLATO Learning’s finely grained pre- and post-assessment indicators, the Cy-Fair evaluation also included a survey of students and teachers who used PLATO Secondary Solutions. The survey showed that most students who used the courseware in 2008-09 agreed that it helped them graduate, while their teachers agreed unanimously that PLATO Secondary Solutions allowed students to be more successful.

During Cy-Fair’s 2008–09 academic year, PLATO Secondary Solutions addressed remediation and credit recovery needs via access to PLATO-designed courses on the subjects of Algebra, Biology, Chemistry, English, Geometry, Integrated Physics and Chemistry, U.S. History, World Geography, and World History. Cy-Fair also customized some courses to address specific local curriculum priorities.

To access the full text of the Cy-Fair evaluation, titled “Evidence of Effectiveness of PLATO Secondary Solutions on Student Achievement and College and Career Readiness,” visit www.plato.com.