AUSTIN, TX (April 13, 2016) – Raise Your Hand Texas today announced the five winners selected as blended learning demonstration sites, including Birdville ISD, to receive up to $500,000 in grant funding over three years and comprehensive implementation support, through the Raising Blended LearnersSM initiative. More than a dozen additional districts were selected as pilot sites and will receive implementation support without grant funding to promote the expansion of blended learning statewide.
The five winning demonstration sites – a mix of small and large, urban and rural, public school districts and public charter schools – will serve as proof points for the effective implementation of blended learning and were chosen through a 10-month consideration process involving 75 semi-finalist teams. Birdville ISD is joined by Cisco ISD, KIPP Houston, Pasadena ISD, and Point Isabel ISD.
Each of the demonstration site grant winners seek to apply blended learning strategies to remedy a specific challenge in their schools. As a demonstration site, Birdville ISD aims to increase literacy for secondary students, which is a foundational skill for all high school learning.
“Birdville ISD will now stand as an implementation model from which districts across the state can learn,” said Alison Badgett, interim executive director for Raise Your Hand Texas. “BISD leadership is committed to using blended learning to personalize instruction and drive improved performance. We look forward to supporting the District’s efforts to enhance student achievement and sharing what we learn statewide.”
Randy Sumrall, executive director of technology for Birdville ISD, states, “With the passing of the bond in 2014, BISD is now poised to successfully implement blended learning in our middle and high schools. With blended learning, secondary students will have some control over their learning experience through online and brick-and-mortar schooling. Blended learning is right for Birdville and our students, as it ‘blends’ the great instructional practices we already have, while leveraging the new technology being purchased with bond funding.”
Pilot Network Sites
The Pilot Network of sites will implement smaller scale, non-grant-funded pilots and will help catalyze statewide expansion of blended learning. Raise Your Hand Texas will commit expert implementation assistance, coaching, and professional development to these pilot sites.
To help other districts and schools interested in learning more or pursuing blended learning, Raise Your Hand Texas also launched a public blended learning resource portal with curated national resources and materials, as well as content created exclusively for the Raising Blended Learners initiative. Raise Your Hand Texas is investing in third-party research evaluation and will publicly report on implementation, beginning in the 2016–17 school year, to drive broader statewide adoption of blended learning approaches.
The Raising Blended Learners demonstration initiative is funded by the Raise Your Hand for Texas Education Fund, Educate Texas, and The Meadows Foundation. Funding will support technical assistance for the Raising Blended Learners grantees and pilot network, including support for ed-tech selection, budgeting and financial analysis, teacher and school leader professional development, and project management.
About Blended Learning
As defined by the Christensen Institute, blended learning is a blend of online learning and brick-and-mortar schooling that takes place when students learn at least in part online, with some student control over the time, place, path, and/or pace of their learning. This is a departure from the broader trend of simply equipping classrooms with devices and software and different from full-time virtual education, which does not include peer engagement and in-person student-teacher interactions.
For more background about blended learning, the initiative, and the initial application process, download the Raising Blended Learners grant summary. Downloadable Raising Blended Learners images and embeddable videos are available in the media kit section of the Raise Your Hand Texas online newsroom.
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About Raise Your Hand Texas
Raise Your Hand Texas is a non-profit, non-partisan organization advancing public education by igniting fiercely innovative leadership and advocacy for our state’s 5 million+ students. We invest in best-in-class programs to develop innovative leaders for Texas public schools, and lead research-driven public policy advocacy that elevates the quality of Texas public education, ensuring that our economy remains strong and Texas’ future remains bright. Visit RaiseYourHandTexas.org to learn more.