This post is the second in a seven-post series exploring the practices of leading blended learning practitioners across the country. The blog series comes in conjunction with the release of five detailed case studies on blended learning operators written by FSG with support from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. This particular post explores KIPP Empower Academy’s journey to blended learning, and highlights some of the results the school has achieved.
KIPP Empower Academy wasn’t initially designed as a blended learning school. When we planned the school in 2009, our goal was to have an inaugural kindergarten grade divided into five classes of 20 students each. Each class would feature personalized, small-group instruction as the core of the instructional model. However, in August 2009, the state of California reduced funding for new and growing charter schools. Before we even opened, we projected a $200,000 shortfall in expected revenue for our first year of operations. Even more problematic, our planned class size was no longer possible.
After considerable research, we decided that blended learning would allow us to expand class size to 28-30 students and still maintain what we viewed as a non-negotiable: our emphasis on individualized and small-group instruction.
We opened the school with 115 kindergarten students in summer 2010. Despite the change to our initial vision for the school, we were determined to establish a vibrant culture that, starting on day one of kindergarten, would reflect KIPP’s college-prep mission. From our perspective, it wasn’t a matter of determining whether we could integrate blended learning and still maintain a strong culture. It was a matter of determining how.
Click to read the rest of this post on the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation website.