Ohio Appalachian Collaborative Blog

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OAC Straight A: Showcasing Our Progress

by | Sep 22, 2014

Since the Ohio Appalachian Collaborative (OAC) was awarded one of the first-round Straight A grants from the Ohio Department of Education in December 2013, our 27 districts have made great strides – and shared some lessons learned – in the work to invest in a personalized learning network that will provide students more access to blended and dual enrollment opportunities, ultimately preparing today’s students for success in future jobs.

Visit from Ohio’s State Superintendent

On Thursday, Sept. 18, we had the pleasure of hosting Ohio’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Richard A. Ross at two of the OAC Straight A districts to showcase the progress we have made.

Dr. Ross toured classrooms at Sheridan High School (Northern Local School District)photo 8 (2) and Maysville High School (Maysville Local School District) to see the Straight A work in action – including the use of a Polycom platform connecting Sheridan High School students with students at River View High School, a dual enrollment Computer Science and Technology Class, and a recorded distance learning class demonstration.

At both schools, Dr. Ross took time to talkphoto 2with teachers, parents and students about the impact of the Straight A work. Here’s what people had to say:

  • “The difference is grit. We are helping kids with their mindsets. We are centering on careers and college. There is a shift from research papers to project-based learning. We have opened the conversation and are helping kids talk about their learning.” ~Teacher
  • “Dual enrollment prepares you for college. The classes help you take more personal responsibility for your learning. I like staying here at school and taking college classes.” ~Student
  • “It is nice to see these opportunities for our kids. Our community is amazed to see what the kids can do.” ~Teacher
  • “OAC and Straight A have knocked down the walls for collaboration and opportunities to occur.” ~Superintendent

The visit received coverage in several news outlets:

Editor’s Note: Special thanks to the following staff at Sheridan High School and Maysville High School for making the visit a success: Angie Gussler, Liz Arnold, Chris King, Lucy Howard, David Burkhart, Monte Bainter, and Jason Bunting.

Reporting on Our Work

We recently summarized our progress in the report, “OAC Straight A Grant: Early Returns on Investments.” 

Our goals for the first year of the grant have been to increase student access for advanced learning opportunities, improve purchasing power and cost-savings efficiencies, and make a plan for management and oversight of the project between districts and partners.

We’re excited about our early successes, which include:

  • Sixty-three teachers enrolled in programs to earn dual enrollment credentialing
  • Twenty-one districts opted to purchase new technology tools (iPads, laptops, Chromebooks, etc.), bringing improved technology to 320 classrooms and 13,000 students
  • Districts achieved $260,000 in cost savings from pooled purchasing (a savings of nearly $6 per student across all districts)

(Additional early successes are listed in the report.)

What have we learned through this process of working with 27 districts? Well, a lot. First, it’s important to spend the time taking inventory of assets and needs in all districts. We’ve also learned about consolidating purchases. Finally, we’ve had to balance the trade-off between being flexible to meet individual district needs verses making decisions that are most efficient for the collaborative.

There will be many more lessons learned over the next four years as we continue working on the Straight A grant and enhance education for Appalachian students in Ohio. We look forward to continuing to share our progress.