Customer Story: School of Extended Educational Options (SEEO), Pomona Unified School District

A California charter and independent study school stay the course during a global pandemic and offers three distance learning lessons for all.

In 2014, SEEO was preparing to close its doors due to decreased student enrollment and reduced Average Daily Attendance (ADA) funding. Tom Sweeney, the new School Principal, was assigned with turning around and stabilizing the school. Mr. Sweeney’s first order of business was planning for school sustainability and student engagement. (Encouraged to improve attendance and avoid funding reductions, schools are financially incentivized to keep students in school and in attendance.) After completing the research on how to optimize ADA funding, Sweeney identified student engagement as the basis for reporting on attendance, he turned to the internet in search of an edtech solution to easily track and report student participation. Six years later, SEEO is successfully serving a dispersed 600 students with varying needs in grades K-12 and thriving!

Here are the lessons they offer for schools settling into extended distance learning periods during COVID-19 school building closures.

1. Deliver/collect/track visibility of engagement data to monitor participation, engagement, and growth; thus, keeping students progressing towards their goals.

To meet the needs of a distance learning community, it was critical to have an automated system in place to gauge and monitor student engagement across the learning management and curriculum delivery platforms already in place. SEEO turned to Hero by SchoolMint as the central hub and source of truth for student engagement data management, ADA data for complaint state reporting, and to eliminate trying and siloed record-keeping for teachers.

2. Implement Tier 1 Support: Communicate Expectations, Intervene Early, Acknowledge Appropriate Behavior, and Use Data to Drive Decisions. Partner with Parents, Guardians and Student Families.

SEEO students access up to three different student learning management systems to complete their subject-specific curriculum and turn in assignments directly to their teachers. Teachers use Hero weekly to document student progress and also acknowledge students with a digital token economy for their participation.

Hero dashboards and reports are used by administrators and teachers to monitor student academic progress and overall teacher to student engagement health in their role as an active, consistent, and positive teacher-mentor. In addition to motivating, and documenting student engagement, Hero is used in providing tiered support for at-risk learners. By using Hero to track student participation, those not participating and completing work are identified earlier and proactive intervention and supports are delivered.

This year, SEEO has been able to proactively redirect nearly 75% of their students who had not recorded any assignment completions for the year. Of that, less than 20% of students went on to receive support from a counselor and 80% of the counselor referrals were resolved with just 1-2 additional consults. Tiered intervention is working, students are back on track to be successful and ADA funding is optimized.

3. Partner with Parents, Guardians and Student Families

Involving families in their students’ distance learning can have a significant impact on student success. This can often involve timely communication via email and/or text messages that are decentralized across teachers and staff. Automated email or push notifications to communicate with guardians, alert them when a student has not completed any work or an automatic warning that their student is in danger of dropping a course, as compliant to California state law. Parents also receive positive feedback when their student has completed assignments, or an entire course – taking one step closer to graduation!

Distance learning is nothing new to Tom Sweeney and SEEO, but how they’re using Hero is timely and relatable to all schools – whether you operate in a virtual setting year-round, or as determined by times of a pandemic. Hero by SchoolMint is a user-friendly tool, that helps schools manage and monitor school-wide student engagement in one place, and align MTSS frameworks to support student achievement – no matter the school location.

Learn more about how Hero can support your distance learning efforts here.