FLINT TWP. — On Aug. 3, the Carman-Ainsworth Board of Education approved a Seat-Time Waiver Program for Atlantis Alternative Education High School in the first step toward increasing computer-based instruction at the school, 3493 Beveridge Road. Atlantis serves grades 9-12 and is supported by the Bendle and Carman-Ainsworth Boards of Education.
The board’s resolution must also be approved by the Michigan Department of Education which is expected to be done by the time school starts, said Eddie Kindle, assistant superintendent.
The seat-time waiver, as defined by the MDE, is an alternative education program that eliminates some physical attendance requirements and allows students to take more online courses per specified time period.
MDE allows two types of programs. One is a 100 percent Online Seat Time Waiver which allows a school district to deliver instruction online, with no requirement for the student to come to a school setting. The other is called a Blended Learning Seat Time Waiver in which some instruction takes place in a supervised school facility and some is imparted through a computer based or internet-connected learning environment. Students are required to receive at least fifty percent of the course instructional time through on-site faceto face instruction.
C-A is adopting the blended version for Atlantis that will feature an interactive on-line digital curriculum that allows students to learn at their own pace with support from a Mentor and a Success Team.
“We are in the planning stages of implementing this new model for the 2015/2016 school year.” Kindle said. Classes begin at Atlantis on Sept. 8.
Current Atlantis students will be notified about the change by mail and or phone beginning the week of August 17, Kindle said. To accommodate changes in the program, C-A will provide additional technology devices such as desktop computers and/or chrome books for students to use during the school day.
The new Atlantis program which is called the Victory Educational Plan, will use qualified teachers and the Pearson/Gradepoint Curriculum in compliance with Michigan Merit Curriculum graduation requirements.
Computer lab time will be available to all students during the school day. Based on individualized plans, some students may be able to work on specific material at home, Kindle said.
Teachers will travel from lab to lab to provide support for students. A Success Day component on Fridays is designed for students to complete required community based/ project-based assignments, meet one on one with an assigned mentor and receive individual or group support from other Success Team staff members.
Students will be required to attend school daily to meet login/seat time waiver requirements.
The school board began this process in mid-July after Superintendent Steve Tunnicliff reported that while Atlantis attendance is falling, there are thriving alternative programs being offered by other schools districts in the county that have adopted blended curriculums. Atlantis enrollment dropped from nearly 200 students in 2012 to about 161 for the 2013- 14 school year and 130 in 2014-15, Tunnicliff said.
The Swartz Creek School District also is planning to implement a blended instructional model for its alternative education program. The district will merge the Academy and Global Learning Hub this year.
“It’s all about hope, because every graduate in the U.S. affects the world, and so does every dropout,” said Richard Kerry Thompson, dean of students and director of operations for the Academy and Hub. “It’s our responsibility to provide options.”
The curriculum for the Academy/ Hub merger will blend on-site and online instruction that is individualized to suit each students needs. It will be student-driven and solution focused.
Swartz Creek View reporter Lania Rocha contributed to this report.