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One Broward County charter school plans to close, another may be forced to shut down

Mark Randall / Sun Sentinel

By Scott TravisContact ReporterSun SentinelSHARE THISft
Florida Virtual Academy at Broward agreed on Monday to voluntarily close.
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One Broward County charter school plans to close and another may be forced to shut down after numerous problems were identified in recent school district audits.

Florida Virtual Academy at Broward agreed on Monday to voluntarily close at the end of the school year, following an audit that revealed poor academic performance, allegations of ethical breaches and a poor working relationship with between the schools’ governing board and management company.

The South Florida Virtual Charter School Board also operates the Florida Virtual Academy at Palm Beach and has agreed to close that school as well, pending the results of an investigation by the inspector general for Palm Beach County schools. The charter schools are not affiliated with Florida Virtual School, the longtime state-run online education program.

A Lauderdale Lakes charter school, Pathways Academy, was recommended for termination after district auditors said school leaders falsified documents, inflated student enrollment and used state money for personal travel and expenses.

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The district conducted the audit after Andrew Ramjit, an administrator from May to August of last year, sent a letter of complaint to Inspector General for the Florida Department of Education, which investigates fraud and mismanagement. Chief Auditor Pat Reilly said he sent the district’s audit to the Inspector General on Thursday and expects it will lead to a criminal investigation.

The audit findings for Pathway Academy include:

•Inflating enrollment reports to get more money. The district identified $49,000 in overpayments to the school based on false enrollment figures. The school said the students in question may have been absent during enrollment counts, but there was no attempt to manipulate the figures.

•Forging the signature of teachers on evaluation forms and other documents. Ramjit alleged that teacher evaluations were altered to justify firing some teachers, A school attorney claimed Ramjit was responsible for teacher evaluations and any forgery was done by him.

•Spending charter school money on many personal items, including $3,000 to stay at resorts in St. Petersburg and Lake Buena Vista, $1,100 in questionable restaurant expenses, more than $1,400 for a refrigerator and maintenance contract that wasn’t used at the school, $75 for three bicycle lifts and $170 for questionable gardening supplies and a ceramic table top torch at Home Depot. The school claimed they were all for school uses.

For example, torch was bought after the janitor complained of excessive bugs and mosquitoes in the area, a lawyer for the school said, although Reilly said the school operates in a leased office building and there’s no lawn or garden to maintain.

“It was one ridiculous response after another,” Reilly said.

The school sent a letter to the district last week saying that Principal Yudit Silva, the subject of most of the allegations, no longer worked for the school. Neither she nor the school’s lawyer could be reached.

The school has been plagued with high teacher turnover since it opened in 2013. All but one teacher during the 2014-15 school year left before the current school year and nine of 16 teachers employed this school year have already left, according to the audit.

A separate audit conducted of Florida Virtual Academy found numerous academic deficiencies at that school. Auditors said the school failed to provide evidence that students were receiving the required instructional time for reading, failed to provide a “clear and comprehensive grading system,” and failed to show it was following state law in regard to serving students with disabilities and limited English skills. The state is also penalizing the school by $200,000 because too many students failed their end-of-course exams.

The board has had a tumultuous relationship with its management company, K12 Inc, which ran the academics at school. The audit said if the board and K12 couldn’t work together, K12 should be replaced or the school should be closed. The board chose the latter option at a meeting Monday.

“It’s sad that this is the choice we reached,” said Philip Morgaman, president and CEO of the South Florida Virtual Charter Schools. “But at the end of the day, I think everybody thinks we can’t fix it with this contractor.

stravis@sunsentinel.com or 561-243-6637 or 954-425-1421

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Virtual charter schools in Broward, Palm Beach could close following audits

Broward committee recommends closing virtual charter school

A pair of virtual charter schools in Palm Beach and Broward counties may soon shut down, following complaints of poor student performance, allegations of ethical breaches and hostility between the schools’ governing board and management company

An audit committee for Broward County schools recommended Thursday that the district terminate its contract with Florida Virtual Academy at Broward, which has been operating for three years.

The school’s governing board, the South Florida Virtual Charter School Board, also oversees Florida Virtual Academy at Palm Beach, which has been under review since Octoberby the Palm Beach County School District’s Inspector General. Together they serve about 350 students.

The charter schools are not affiliated with Florida Virtual School, the longtime state-run online education program.

“Our intent is to move forward with the recommendations and come to some kind of closure process, either voluntary or otherwise,” Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said.

And indeed, the schools in both counties may close voluntarily, said Philip Morgaman, president and CEO of the South Florida Charter School Board.

“Voluntary dissolution is a viable alternative, and it’s certainly one of the alternatives our board will consider, and it may very well be the most likely,” he said.

Morgaman said he wants to receive the Palm Beach County audit before holding a special board meeting. He said that would likely happen at the end of the school year, so students wouldn’t be displaced mid-term.

The Broward auditfound numerous academic deficiencies at the school. It said the school failed to provide evidence that students were receiving the required instructional time for reading, failed to provide a “clear and comprehensive grading system,” and failed to show it was following state law in regard to serving students with disabilities and limited English skills. The state is also penalizing the school by $200,000 because too many students failed their end-of-course exams.

Both schools received grades of D in 2013-14. The state hasn’t released grades for the 2014-15 school year.

Jeff Kwitowski, a spokesman for management company K12 Inc., which oversaw the school’s academics, declined to comment on the Broward audit or the possibility that the two schools may get shut down. The company also runs online charter schools in six other counties in the state, but they would not be affected by the actions of the South Florida board, Kwitowski said.

Problems involving the two schools came to light in October after K12 Inc. sent a letter to the Broward and Palm Beach counties’ superintendents accusing Morgaman of violating Florida’s ethics laws.

At issue were a $60,000 check written from the schools’ account to the United Schools Association, a Deerfield Beach-based nonprofit for which Morgaman serves as chairman and CEO, and a $40,000 check paid to Dane G. Taylor, the nonprofit’s chief administrative officer.

The letter prompted investigations from both counties. The Palm Beach County School District’s inspector general is still reviewing it but Broward County auditors agreed the board’s actions violated state statutes.

Morgaman said the United Schools Association served as the pass-through for the $60,000, and that the money actually went to other vendors. He said the board was trying to find consultants to help improve the schools, whose students have performed poorly.

He said the company agreed to repay the $60,000to avoid an appearance of a conflict of interest.

Morgaman said Taylor’s employment with the charter school board was independent of his work with the nonprofit association. Taylor’s work has included radio spots and other aspects of an advertising campaign, communicating with K12 and doing research.

The auditors found the money was paid to Taylor before he provided services, a violation of state rules.

stravis@sunsentinel.com or 561-243-6637 or 954-425-1421

PBC charter school leader accused of steering money to his own company

Posted: 3:55 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015

By Andrew Marra


Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

One of the nation’s largest operators of online schools is blowing the whistle on a Palm Beach County charter school that it manages, alleging that the school’s chairman improperly steered $60,000 to a company he runs and at least $25,000 more to a business associate.

The allegations against Florida Virtual Academy at Palm Beach County and its sister school, Florida Virtual Academy at Broward County, have prompted school district auditors in both Palm Beach and Broward to open investigations into the schools’ financial dealings.

Now the schools’ chairman, Philip E. Morgaman of Boca Raton, is vowing that most of the money in question will be reimbursed. He insisted, however, that it was spent on legitimate services for the two online schools, which educate about 400 students, and did not directly benefit him.

“It was a pass-through and nothing more,” Morgaman told The Palm Beach Post.

He suggested that the allegations against him were payback from the management company, but added that “we don’t want there to be an appearance of a problem, so it’s rescinded.”

The allegations at the virtual schools echo those made this summer at Wellington’s Eagle Arts Academy, a charter school whose finances are being probed by the school district after The Post revealed that the school’s founder steered school money to businesses he operated.

K12, the Virginia-based company paid to manage the two virtual schools, said that the schools’ board entered into two transactions that troubled it enough to warn the Palm Beach and Broward school districts of its findings.

Last week, K12 took the extraordinary step of sending records to both school districts showing that in April, Morgaman wrote a $60,000 check from a school account to the United Schools Association, a non-profit he runs as chairman and CEO.

In December, records show, Morgaman also wrote a $25,000 check from a school account to the United Schools Association’s Chief Administrative Officer Dane G. Taylor.

In the letter, obtained this week by The Post, K12’s executive vice president warned that the transactions “appear to contravene Florida’s ethics laws.”

Charter schools are financed by public tax dollars but are privately operated and receive little independent oversight. The virtual schools have no physical classrooms. Their students take classes online. The virtual academies’ board pays K12 about $1.5 million a year to operate the schools, Morgaman said.

A K12 spokesman acknowledged the letter but declined to discuss details.

K12 takes compliance very seriously,” spokesman Jeff Kwitowski said. “We had some serious concerns and we felt it was our responsibility to immediately alert the district, which is the school’s authorizer, so they can review the matter independently.”

But in an interview, Morgaman said that K12 never brought its concerns to him or the board. He called the allegations retribution.

Morgaman said that he and the rest of the school’s board of directors have complained this year about the frequent turnover of K12’s teaching staff and have resisted what he said were efforts by the company to add handpicked members to the board of directors.

“I think we clearly ruffled some feathers with a very large organization,” he said.

The $60,000 paid to United Schools Association was described in school records as a “deposit” for the non-profit to find experts to help boost student enrollment. Morgaman said that much of the money went to marketing and advertising companies, but that the contract prohibited his company from profiting from any of the transactions.

“It was a pass-through and nothing more,” he said. “This was simply one organization trying to help another.”

Though most of the money has been spent, he said the non-profit would return the full $60,000 to the school in the form of a donation. As CEO of United Schools Association, he said he earns a $50,000 annual salary, while he serves as a volunteer chairman on the virtual schools’ board.

Morgaman said that the check he wrote from the schools’ account to Taylor, an employee of United Schools Association, was for Taylor to assist the schools’ board during a time of frequent turnover on K12’s staff. Records indicate Taylor received $25,000 in December and an additional $7,500 in monthly payments.

“He’s frankly the only continuity that we’ve had,” he said.

The Palm Beach County School Board’s inspector general opened a probe of the schools’ finances this week, Inspector General Lung Chiu said. The Broward County School District’s auditing department has also launched an investigative audit, Chief Auditor Patrick Reilly said.

Florida Virtual Academy at Palm Beach County is in its third year, educating roughly 150 full-time students in the county, K12 said.

The school is governed by the non-profit South Florida Virtual Charter School Board, which Morgaman heads and which pays K12 to manage all of its operations.


What The Post found

Charter schools are financed by taxpayers but freed from many rules that bind public schools. In previous stories, The Post showed questionable expenses at a Wellington charter school, the Eagle Arts Academy. Now, spending questions surround a virtual charter school, Florida Virtual Academy at Palm Beach County. Read the Eagle Arts stories at MyPalmBeachPost.com

Investigation: Founder cashed in on Wellington’s Eagle Arts charter

Updated: 4:31 p.m. Thursday, July 9, 2015Posted: 4:31 p.m. Thursday, July 9, 2015

By Andrew Marra


Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

WELLINGTON —

Eagle Arts Academy, one of Palm Beach County’s largest charter schools, opened last August with the goal of establishing a performing arts mecca for children on a sprawling campus in the heart of Wellington.

But while the publicly funded school ran up hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and struggled to put in place its arts-infused curriculum, a Palm Beach Post investigation has found that it served a very different purpose: filling the bank accounts of its founder’s private businesses.

As the K-8 school opened last year, Eagle Arts Academy required its roughly 680 students to buy high-priced uniform shirts from a company set up by founder Gregory James Blount, a former model and events producer.

Though Blount’s company marketed itself to parents and the county school board as a “foundation” to support Eagle Arts, The Post found that the company is not a federally recognized nonprofit and that little of its revenue from uniform sales went to the school.

Blount’s company also offered after-school courses to students but charged them for the classes and kept the profits, Blount admitted. Though his business operated on school grounds for three months, records and interviews show it did so with no lease and paid no rent, an arrangement that a school district administrator called “unusual.”

While that company drew tens of thousands of dollars from Eagle Art’s students, another of Blount’s companies made more than $125,000 in taxpayer dollars from the school through a contract he obtained while serving as the school’s volunteer chairman.

Blount, 46, won the money by arranging for his company to receive a contract to create the school’s arts-infused curriculum, despite the fact that he had no education background and had never designed a curriculum.

Little oversight

on finances

Though Eagle Arts is a nonprofit school, Blount’s efforts to steer parents’ cash and public tax dollars toward his own businesses offer a glimpse into the ways that charters, which are operated with public money but little independent oversight, can become profit centers for their managers and founders.

Florida’s lax charter school regulations let people with little education experience open schools that draw millions of taxpayer dollars if enough students enroll. Too often, critics say, weak oversight sets the stage for financial self-dealing.

“Do we like it? No,” said Jim Pegg, who oversees the county’s charter schools for the Palm Beach County School District. “Is it legal? Yes.”

Blount’s money-making didn’t stop with those two companies. Records show he drew an additional $7,500 from the school through a third business, Sound Tree Entertainment, for consulting services. Sound Tree is also poised to earn thousands of dollars in interest from Eagle Arts after loaning it nearly $39,000 at a 7.5 percent compound interest rate, school records show.

Founder concedes:

I made mistakes

Eagle Arts’ charter with the school board prohibits its board members from profiting from the school, stating that “no member of the school’s governing board shall receive compensation, directly or indirectly, from the school’s operations.”

But Pegg said that Blount avoided any violation of the school’s charter by resigning as chairman in the weeks before the charter went into effect, then resuming his position after his business relationships with the school had ended.

In an interview, Blount told The Post that he “made mistakes” while getting the school started. But he said he broke no laws, and that everything he did was in the interest of opening the school quickly and transforming the educational experience of its students.

“It’s not like I was ever out there saying, ‘How does Greg make money off this every step of the way?’” he said.

Instead, Blount blamed his business arrangements on bad advice from the school’s management company and logistical problems that he said required him to offer up his own businesses as solutions.

“I worked 80-hour work weeks from March 2014 to August 2014 to open the school,” he said. He added that “we opened the school a year early.”

With the school’s first year completed, many parents defend Blount, saying that his financial dealings don’t detract from his leadership.

“Gregory is a revolutionist, and I have no worries in regards to the financial future of Eagle Arts,” said Amy Ackerman, who enrolled her daughter in second grade at the school last year. “I believe that they are paving the way to a much brighter education in Wellington and the surrounding areas.”

But even in Blount’s telling, the prospect of making money in Florida’s booming charter school industry was on his mind from the beginning. More than $1.5 billion a year in state money flows into Florida’s charter schools, which are spreading quickly across the state and now total more than 650.

Blount said he became interested in starting a charter school after emerging from personal bankruptcy in 2010 and operating a small business that gave acting and modeling classes.

His motives, he said, were two-fold: to create a new learning style that teaches traditional subjects through technology and arts, and to build a business selling it.

Curriculum expert,

founder clash

To open the school and run it, Blount enlisted Liz Knowles, a longtime educator and former administrator at the private Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale. It was Knowles who would have run the school and designed the curriculum, which Blount named “Artademics.”

But Knowles told The Post that she and Blount soon clashed. One of the final straws, she said, was when she learned he had started a company and named it after their curriculum, Artademics, without telling her.

When she confronted him about it, she recalled, he sought to put her at ease.

“He said, ‘Don’t worry, Liz. You’ll be rich,’” Knowles recalled. Blount denied making the comment.

But Knowles decided she couldn’t work with him and left shortly before the school year began, taking her draft of the school’s new curriculum with her.

By then, Blount’s company had obtained the contract to write what the school already was touting as its signature curriculum. With Knowles gone, he undertook the project himself.

Blount said that “I don’t claim to be an educator.” But he hired people with teaching backgrounds to help him, including, he said, a teacher on the school’s staff.

Starting in September, Blount’s company pulled in more than $127,000 from school coffers during a seven-month period, records show. The money was steered to the company through the school’s management company, iSchools, which contracted with Artademics at the board of directors’ request.

Yet months passed without the curriculum making an appearance at Eagle Arts.

After protests from parents and the departure of dozens of students, the school’s management company warned him in November that he would be in breach of his contract if he didn’t deliver the curriculum soon. He turned in the first installment weeks later.

A copy of the curriculum reviewed by The Post shows that it calls for students to read classic children’s books like Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland and do reading- or math-based exercises afterward, such as counting balloons, inventing additional characters or creating paper cut-outs of Victorian homes.

Blount pointed out that he did not keep all of the money that Artademics earned.

“The money that went to Artademics LLC did not go directly to me,” he said. “It went to my company, which has consultants working to develop the curriculum.”

‘Foundation’ profited

from uniforms, classes

While Blount pulled payments from the school through Artademics, his “foundation” sold the school’s roughly 680 students their mandatory uniform shirts and provided after-hours lessons — all at a markup.

Blount declined to provide specifics about his company’s uniform sales. But a sales receipt shows his company charged $24 for polo shirts, 50 percent more than some other area charter schools charge. Students at the Somerset Academy and the Renaissance Charter School chains, for instance, pay about $16 for similar shirts.

Blount defended his prices, saying that they included the cost of stitching on the school’s eagle logo, to which Blount said he owns the copyright.

“The cost and quality of the uniform tops are comparable to other schools and uniform stores,” he said.

Thais Gonzalez, a parent who has been critical of the school’s management, said the shirt prices seemed high when she ordered four last year for her two enrolled children. But she said she didn’t mind because she thought the money was going to a nonprofit foundation supporting Eagle Arts.

“I was happy to do it because it was supporting my children’s school,” she said.

But while Blount said his company, EMPPAC Foundation, bought some equipment for students to use at the school, he admitted that his company kept nearly all of the money, with most of it going to his fiancée’s salary.

Blount initially told The Post that EMPPAC donated only a few cameras to the school. But on Thursday, he said that it had also provided other services, including lighting equipment, the use of a phone and website design.

“The foundation incurred thousands of dollars in expenses on behalf of the school,” he said.

He also said Thursday that “there was a check from the EMPPAC foundation to the school.” But a spokeswoman for Eagle Arts, responding to a public records request, said previously in a statement that the school had no official record of any donations from the company.

Though Eagle Arts billed Blount’s company as a “foundation” to the county school board, IRS records show the company is not a federally recognized foundation or other nonprofit. While the company lists itself as a nonprofit on state corporate filings, Blount said the company pays federal taxes and effectively operates as a for-profit business under federal law.

He said his company intends to apply to the IRS for non-profit status.

Even so, records and interviews show Eagle Arts allowed EMPPAC to sell its after-school courses to students on campus for three months without signing a lease or paying the school for the use of its space. Blount said he requested a lease from the school but was never given one.

Pegg called the arrangement “unusual” but said that giving a company free access to its campus was the school’s prerogative.

‘At some point I’ve

got to make a living’

EMPPAC’s money-making activities at the school stopped in January, Blount said, and Artademics stopped drawing payments in April as the school separated from its private management company, which oversaw Artademics’ contract.

Blount resumed his position as chairman of the school’s board of directors in May, barring him or his companies from profiting from the school. Records show, though, that one of Blount’s companies, Sound Tree Entertainment, still stands to collect thousands of dollars in interest from its loan to the school.

Blount said that the payments to Sound Tree are intended to compensate him for costs he incurred in drawing up the school’s 130-page application to the school board.

“As for Sound Tree, the school would not be in existence if I did not spend the thousands of hours to write and then re-write the charter application,” he said.

He added that he “rented space in Delray Beach to work from at $2,600 a month and yet did not charge the school for the years of shared rent during the charter-writing process.”

Though he acknowledged missteps, Blount said he devoted countless hours to setting up Eagle Arts. The school opened a year earlier than initially planned, he said, causing a rush to get things arranged last summer.

“If I’d had this last year, I wouldn’t have made those mistakes,” he said.

He said he is still designing a curriculum for the school but will now donate his work.

Still, although board members serve as volunteers, Blount argued he was entitled to compensation for his work.

“What you’re missing is the thousand-plus hours I spent at this school,” he said. “At some point I’ve got to make a living.”

Maria Ironstone, the school’s parent liaison, said that the school has had “challenges” but that Blount has the support of parents.

“I have worked with many amazing people in my career, but never one as dedicated to the cause as Mr. Blount,” she said in an email. “Since he became chairman of the board we are back on track with our vision.”

The school district said that the school has run up hundreds of thousands of dollars in debts to its management company and a contractor, raising worries about its financial future and setting the stage for possible litigation.

But Eagle Arts plans to open this August with what Blount says he hopes will be an even larger enrollment.

“Did we make mistakes? Yes. What company doesn’t make mistakes?” Blount said. “We’re intent on fixing them and moving forward.”

Staff researcher Melanie Mena contributed to this story.

Florida district deploys new math tool

September 25th, 2015

Jackson County implements LearnBop to help students master math skills, computer-based testing

Florida’s Jackson County School District will deploy LearnBop, a math learning system, to students across the school district.

Following the rollout of Digital Jackson, a one-to-one initiative providing Windows 8 tablets to students in grades K-8, the district next focused on interactive learning content.

“With all of the digital programs, the curriculum training, and integrating tablets, teachers are jumping in head first,” said Missy Rogers, Jackson County School District’s math coordinator. “LearnBop is fabulous for remediation, as it helps teachers assign the standards we are focusing on, and then track and monitor each student’s progress toward those standards.”

The previous math program in the district didn’t allow teachers to assign work to students by specific standards, which made it difficult to identify students’ gaps. Rogers says the district hopes LearnBop will help educators make the shift to the new Florida Standards Assessments (FSA), because it allows teachers to assign specific standards and track data on student progress in mastering those standards. The tool previously provided by the state for FCAT assessment practice no longer exists, and the district needed something to replace it.

The LearnBop platform leverages the interactivity and personalization of the tablet and uses a step-by-step approach to learning math, mirroring the personalized support that a student would receive in a one-on-one tutoring session. Each step covers a concept students need to understand in order to solve a problem, which means that data on student performance regarding fundamental concepts is collected as they learn.

Every step in LearnBop’s system is tagged with a mathematical concept, specifically aligned with state and national standards, including Florida standards. This data is presented to teachers in dashboard reports immediately available at the end of each session, and is incredibly valuable for teachers, who would otherwise have to administer time-consuming diagnostics to know where their students’ knowledge gaps lie.

“In the past,” Rogers said, “if a student scored a 70 on a chapter test, all we knew was that they didn’t understand 30 percent of the content. We didn’t know what the specific gaps were. Now that everything in LearnBop is aligned to the Florida standards, our assessments show specifically what students do and don’t know, standard by standard.”

Like many new state assessments, the FSA use computer-based testing, eliminating multiple choice questions and offering fill-in-the-blank, drag-and-drop, graph drawing, and other interactive features. Because of this new interactive assessment model, students are struggling to adjust to the new standards, as well as to this new mode of test-taking. LearnBop mirrors the FSA by providing grade-appropriate content to help students prepare for new, interactive test-taking.

As an exclusive partner to Fuel Education, LearnBop is also available through FuelEd’s Personalized Learning Platform, PEAK, a technology platform that provides a single, unified view of online and blended learning activities across multiple solutions for administrators, teachers, and students.

Jackson County School District also Fuel Education solutions in multiple online and blended learning programs throughout the district, including the FuelEd Full-Time School Comprehensive Program, Anywhere Learning System (ALS), Online Courses, and Credit Recovery.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

Florida district deploys new math tool

September 25th, 2015

Jackson County implements LearnBop to help students master math skills, computer-based testing

Florida’s Jackson County School District will deploy LearnBop, a math learning system, to students across the school district.

Following the rollout of Digital Jackson, a one-to-one initiative providing Windows 8 tablets to students in grades K-8, the district next focused on interactive learning content.

“With all of the digital programs, the curriculum training, and integrating tablets, teachers are jumping in head first,” said Missy Rogers, Jackson County School District’s math coordinator. “LearnBop is fabulous for remediation, as it helps teachers assign the standards we are focusing on, and then track and monitor each student’s progress toward those standards.”

The previous math program in the district didn’t allow teachers to assign work to students by specific standards, which made it difficult to identify students’ gaps. Rogers says the district hopes LearnBop will help educators make the shift to the new Florida Standards Assessments (FSA), because it allows teachers to assign specific standards and track data on student progress in mastering those standards. The tool previously provided by the state for FCAT assessment practice no longer exists, and the district needed something to replace it.

The LearnBop platform leverages the interactivity and personalization of the tablet and uses a step-by-step approach to learning math, mirroring the personalized support that a student would receive in a one-on-one tutoring session. Each step covers a concept students need to understand in order to solve a problem, which means that data on student performance regarding fundamental concepts is collected as they learn.

Every step in LearnBop’s system is tagged with a mathematical concept, specifically aligned with state and national standards, including Florida standards. This data is presented to teachers in dashboard reports immediately available at the end of each session, and is incredibly valuable for teachers, who would otherwise have to administer time-consuming diagnostics to know where their students’ knowledge gaps lie.

“In the past,” Rogers said, “if a student scored a 70 on a chapter test, all we knew was that they didn’t understand 30 percent of the content. We didn’t know what the specific gaps were. Now that everything in LearnBop is aligned to the Florida standards, our assessments show specifically what students do and don’t know, standard by standard.”

Like many new state assessments, the FSA use computer-based testing, eliminating multiple choice questions and offering fill-in-the-blank, drag-and-drop, graph drawing, and other interactive features. Because of this new interactive assessment model, students are struggling to adjust to the new standards, as well as to this new mode of test-taking. LearnBop mirrors the FSA by providing grade-appropriate content to help students prepare for new, interactive test-taking.

As an exclusive partner to Fuel Education, LearnBop is also available through FuelEd’s Personalized Learning Platform, PEAK, a technology platform that provides a single, unified view of online and blended learning activities across multiple solutions for administrators, teachers, and students.

Jackson County School District also Fuel Education solutions in multiple online and blended learning programs throughout the district, including the FuelEd Full-Time School Comprehensive Program, Anywhere Learning System (ALS), Online Courses, and Credit Recovery.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

Florida district deploys new math tool

September 25th, 2015

Jackson County implements LearnBop to help students master math skills, computer-based testing

Florida’s Jackson County School District will deploy LearnBop, a math learning system, to students across the school district.

Following the rollout of Digital Jackson, a one-to-one initiative providing Windows 8 tablets to students in grades K-8, the district next focused on interactive learning content.

“With all of the digital programs, the curriculum training, and integrating tablets, teachers are jumping in head first,” said Missy Rogers, Jackson County School District’s math coordinator. “LearnBop is fabulous for remediation, as it helps teachers assign the standards we are focusing on, and then track and monitor each student’s progress toward those standards.”

The previous math program in the district didn’t allow teachers to assign work to students by specific standards, which made it difficult to identify students’ gaps. Rogers says the district hopes LearnBop will help educators make the shift to the new Florida Standards Assessments (FSA), because it allows teachers to assign specific standards and track data on student progress in mastering those standards. The tool previously provided by the state for FCAT assessment practice no longer exists, and the district needed something to replace it.

The LearnBop platform leverages the interactivity and personalization of the tablet and uses a step-by-step approach to learning math, mirroring the personalized support that a student would receive in a one-on-one tutoring session. Each step covers a concept students need to understand in order to solve a problem, which means that data on student performance regarding fundamental concepts is collected as they learn.

Every step in LearnBop’s system is tagged with a mathematical concept, specifically aligned with state and national standards, including Florida standards. This data is presented to teachers in dashboard reports immediately available at the end of each session, and is incredibly valuable for teachers, who would otherwise have to administer time-consuming diagnostics to know where their students’ knowledge gaps lie.

“In the past,” Rogers said, “if a student scored a 70 on a chapter test, all we knew was that they didn’t understand 30 percent of the content. We didn’t know what the specific gaps were. Now that everything in LearnBop is aligned to the Florida standards, our assessments show specifically what students do and don’t know, standard by standard.”

Like many new state assessments, the FSA use computer-based testing, eliminating multiple choice questions and offering fill-in-the-blank, drag-and-drop, graph drawing, and other interactive features. Because of this new interactive assessment model, students are struggling to adjust to the new standards, as well as to this new mode of test-taking. LearnBop mirrors the FSA by providing grade-appropriate content to help students prepare for new, interactive test-taking.

As an exclusive partner to Fuel Education, LearnBop is also available through FuelEd’s Personalized Learning Platform, PEAK, a technology platform that provides a single, unified view of online and blended learning activities across multiple solutions for administrators, teachers, and students.

Jackson County School District also Fuel Education solutions in multiple online and blended learning programs throughout the district, including the FuelEd Full-Time School Comprehensive Program, Anywhere Learning System (ALS), Online Courses, and Credit Recovery.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

Florida district deploys new math tool

September 25th, 2015

Jackson County implements LearnBop to help students master math skills, computer-based testing

Florida’s Jackson County School District will deploy LearnBop, a math learning system, to students across the school district.

Following the rollout of Digital Jackson, a one-to-one initiative providing Windows 8 tablets to students in grades K-8, the district next focused on interactive learning content.

“With all of the digital programs, the curriculum training, and integrating tablets, teachers are jumping in head first,” said Missy Rogers, Jackson County School District’s math coordinator. “LearnBop is fabulous for remediation, as it helps teachers assign the standards we are focusing on, and then track and monitor each student’s progress toward those standards.”

The previous math program in the district didn’t allow teachers to assign work to students by specific standards, which made it difficult to identify students’ gaps. Rogers says the district hopes LearnBop will help educators make the shift to the new Florida Standards Assessments (FSA), because it allows teachers to assign specific standards and track data on student progress in mastering those standards. The tool previously provided by the state for FCAT assessment practice no longer exists, and the district needed something to replace it.

The LearnBop platform leverages the interactivity and personalization of the tablet and uses a step-by-step approach to learning math, mirroring the personalized support that a student would receive in a one-on-one tutoring session. Each step covers a concept students need to understand in order to solve a problem, which means that data on student performance regarding fundamental concepts is collected as they learn.

Every step in LearnBop’s system is tagged with a mathematical concept, specifically aligned with state and national standards, including Florida standards. This data is presented to teachers in dashboard reports immediately available at the end of each session, and is incredibly valuable for teachers, who would otherwise have to administer time-consuming diagnostics to know where their students’ knowledge gaps lie.

“In the past,” Rogers said, “if a student scored a 70 on a chapter test, all we knew was that they didn’t understand 30 percent of the content. We didn’t know what the specific gaps were. Now that everything in LearnBop is aligned to the Florida standards, our assessments show specifically what students do and don’t know, standard by standard.”

Like many new state assessments, the FSA use computer-based testing, eliminating multiple choice questions and offering fill-in-the-blank, drag-and-drop, graph drawing, and other interactive features. Because of this new interactive assessment model, students are struggling to adjust to the new standards, as well as to this new mode of test-taking. LearnBop mirrors the FSA by providing grade-appropriate content to help students prepare for new, interactive test-taking.

As an exclusive partner to Fuel Education, LearnBop is also available through FuelEd’s Personalized Learning Platform, PEAK, a technology platform that provides a single, unified view of online and blended learning activities across multiple solutions for administrators, teachers, and students.

Jackson County School District also Fuel Education solutions in multiple online and blended learning programs throughout the district, including the FuelEd Full-Time School Comprehensive Program, Anywhere Learning System (ALS), Online Courses, and Credit Recovery.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

Florida district deploys new math tool

September 25th, 2015

Jackson County implements LearnBop to help students master math skills, computer-based testing

Florida’s Jackson County School District will deploy LearnBop, a math learning system, to students across the school district.

Following the rollout of Digital Jackson, a one-to-one initiative providing Windows 8 tablets to students in grades K-8, the district next focused on interactive learning content.

“With all of the digital programs, the curriculum training, and integrating tablets, teachers are jumping in head first,” said Missy Rogers, Jackson County School District’s math coordinator. “LearnBop is fabulous for remediation, as it helps teachers assign the standards we are focusing on, and then track and monitor each student’s progress toward those standards.”

The previous math program in the district didn’t allow teachers to assign work to students by specific standards, which made it difficult to identify students’ gaps. Rogers says the district hopes LearnBop will help educators make the shift to the new Florida Standards Assessments (FSA), because it allows teachers to assign specific standards and track data on student progress in mastering those standards. The tool previously provided by the state for FCAT assessment practice no longer exists, and the district needed something to replace it.

The LearnBop platform leverages the interactivity and personalization of the tablet and uses a step-by-step approach to learning math, mirroring the personalized support that a student would receive in a one-on-one tutoring session. Each step covers a concept students need to understand in order to solve a problem, which means that data on student performance regarding fundamental concepts is collected as they learn.

Every step in LearnBop’s system is tagged with a mathematical concept, specifically aligned with state and national standards, including Florida standards. This data is presented to teachers in dashboard reports immediately available at the end of each session, and is incredibly valuable for teachers, who would otherwise have to administer time-consuming diagnostics to know where their students’ knowledge gaps lie.

“In the past,” Rogers said, “if a student scored a 70 on a chapter test, all we knew was that they didn’t understand 30 percent of the content. We didn’t know what the specific gaps were. Now that everything in LearnBop is aligned to the Florida standards, our assessments show specifically what students do and don’t know, standard by standard.”

Like many new state assessments, the FSA use computer-based testing, eliminating multiple choice questions and offering fill-in-the-blank, drag-and-drop, graph drawing, and other interactive features. Because of this new interactive assessment model, students are struggling to adjust to the new standards, as well as to this new mode of test-taking. LearnBop mirrors the FSA by providing grade-appropriate content to help students prepare for new, interactive test-taking.

As an exclusive partner to Fuel Education, LearnBop is also available through FuelEd’s Personalized Learning Platform, PEAK, a technology platform that provides a single, unified view of online and blended learning activities across multiple solutions for administrators, teachers, and students.

Jackson County School District also Fuel Education solutions in multiple online and blended learning programs throughout the district, including the FuelEd Full-Time School Comprehensive Program, Anywhere Learning System (ALS), Online Courses, and Credit Recovery.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

Florida district deploys new math tool

September 25th, 2015

Jackson County implements LearnBop to help students master math skills, computer-based testing

Florida’s Jackson County School District will deploy LearnBop, a math learning system, to students across the school district.

Following the rollout of Digital Jackson, a one-to-one initiative providing Windows 8 tablets to students in grades K-8, the district next focused on interactive learning content.

“With all of the digital programs, the curriculum training, and integrating tablets, teachers are jumping in head first,” said Missy Rogers, Jackson County School District’s math coordinator. “LearnBop is fabulous for remediation, as it helps teachers assign the standards we are focusing on, and then track and monitor each student’s progress toward those standards.”

The previous math program in the district didn’t allow teachers to assign work to students by specific standards, which made it difficult to identify students’ gaps. Rogers says the district hopes LearnBop will help educators make the shift to the new Florida Standards Assessments (FSA), because it allows teachers to assign specific standards and track data on student progress in mastering those standards. The tool previously provided by the state for FCAT assessment practice no longer exists, and the district needed something to replace it.

The LearnBop platform leverages the interactivity and personalization of the tablet and uses a step-by-step approach to learning math, mirroring the personalized support that a student would receive in a one-on-one tutoring session. Each step covers a concept students need to understand in order to solve a problem, which means that data on student performance regarding fundamental concepts is collected as they learn.

Every step in LearnBop’s system is tagged with a mathematical concept, specifically aligned with state and national standards, including Florida standards. This data is presented to teachers in dashboard reports immediately available at the end of each session, and is incredibly valuable for teachers, who would otherwise have to administer time-consuming diagnostics to know where their students’ knowledge gaps lie.

“In the past,” Rogers said, “if a student scored a 70 on a chapter test, all we knew was that they didn’t understand 30 percent of the content. We didn’t know what the specific gaps were. Now that everything in LearnBop is aligned to the Florida standards, our assessments show specifically what students do and don’t know, standard by standard.”

Like many new state assessments, the FSA use computer-based testing, eliminating multiple choice questions and offering fill-in-the-blank, drag-and-drop, graph drawing, and other interactive features. Because of this new interactive assessment model, students are struggling to adjust to the new standards, as well as to this new mode of test-taking. LearnBop mirrors the FSA by providing grade-appropriate content to help students prepare for new, interactive test-taking.

As an exclusive partner to Fuel Education, LearnBop is also available through FuelEd’s Personalized Learning Platform, PEAK, a technology platform that provides a single, unified view of online and blended learning activities across multiple solutions for administrators, teachers, and students.

Jackson County School District also Fuel Education solutions in multiple online and blended learning programs throughout the district, including the FuelEd Full-Time School Comprehensive Program, Anywhere Learning System (ALS), Online Courses, and Credit Recovery.

Material from a press release was used in this report.