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Education

Y115 blended coursework success data looking 'promising'

Yorkville School District 115 Superintendent Tim Shimp talks during the school board meeting Monday night at Yorkville High School.
Yorkville School District 115 Superintendent Tim Shimp talks during the school board meeting Monday night at Yorkville High School.

YORKVILLE – Student success rates for blended courses are looking better for blended online high school-level courses as opposed to the traditional classroom approach within Yorkville School District 115.

That's according to the traditional versus blended classroom success rate report the Yorkville School District 115 Board of Education received and approved the posting of during their meeting Monday. March 18, at the Yorkville High School library.

According to the report, 91 percent of the 476 students enrolled in the blended classes passed with a grade of C or higher in the Fall 2018 semester at Yorkville High School. In comparison, 80 percent of the 1,126 students enrolled in traditional courses passed with a grade of C or higher.

Yorkville School District 115 Superintendent Tim Shimp said the data, which only shows success rates for only the Fall 2018 semester so far, is a baseline to work with so far and other factors, like PSAT and SAT data, need to be further examined before making a more solid conclusion. Before the district determines there's any great significance to the data, he said, school officials need to keep looking at another semester's worth of data and how it spans throughout other grade levels.

In the meantime, Shimp said, the data looks promising.

"Anytime you see the success of students in a different learning environment program, it's going to provide excitement that there's something going on," Shimp said.

Blended learning is a hybrid teaching method that has a strong online platform while still incorporating physical meetings in a more traditional classroom setting. This year, Yorkville High School offered online blended classes for eight course subjects: Algebra 2 and Algebra 2 Honors, Consumer Management, English 1, Geometry, Honors Geometry, Government and Pre-Calculus.

Yorkville School District 115 began with a pilot program in the 2016-2017 school year with six courses in five school subjects, and it will grow to 21 courses across eight subjects next school year, according to board meeting documents.

According to the report, 83 percent of the 59 low-income students that were enrolled in blended classes received a grade of C or higher in the classes, as opposed to 67 percent of 250 low-income students in the traditional counterparts passing with a grade of C or higher.

Shimp said this type of instructional approach isn't for all, just like traditional classroom environments might not work for everyone.

"I think it's just another modality that we need to be continuing to review and expand upon and make sure that, academically, the rigor is there like it is in a traditional course," Shimp said.

New Yorkville High School athletic director hired

The school board also voted, 5-0, to approve four new hires in administrative, department chair and staff roles. That includes new administrator Luke Engelhardt, who will be the new athletic director for Yorkville High School.

Engelhardt will start in his new role July 1 and will have a $100,000 base salary, plus administrative benefits. He has a bachelor's degree in Physical Education and a master's degree in Educational Leadership, both from Aurora University.

Shimp said the decision to try to bring Engelhardt on came after a lot of community input.

"We're really excited about the new energy he's going to bring to the position," Shimp said.

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