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DoDEA Educational Partnership Awards $8.7 Million in Virtual Learning Grants

For Immediate Release — December 2, 2011 | HQ
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ARLINGTON, VA — December 2, 2011 — The Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) Educational Partnership awarded $8.7 million to expand Virtual Learning opportunities in five Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) who serve students from military families.

Alamogordo Public Schools, in Alamogordo, NM, Anchorage School District in Anchorage, AK, Hawaii Department of Education in HI, San Diego Unified School District in San Diego, CA. and Travis Unified School District in Fairfield, CA, all received grants ranging from $684,000 to $2.9 million.

"DoDEA is dedicated to continually improving the education experience for students, and in doing so, offers additional academic opportunities through the use of 21st Century learning and communication tools," said Kathy Facon, Chief of DoDEA's Educational Partnership. "DoDEA's Virtual Learning grant assists eligible students by allowing them to take courses to fill gaps, assist in transition and provide flexibility in scheduling.

The goal of the DoDEA Sponsored Virtual Learning Grant is to supplement existing curricula, provide continuity of instruction, and/or promote credit recovery for transitioning students. The grant will focus primarily on courses that are not offered or for courses that are not available because of a schedule conflict. The intent is to expand access to education and provide online curricular options to address the needs of transitioning and children of military families preparing for college or career readiness.

"The program expands access to education and provides online curricular options to increase college and career readiness," Facon added. "More specifically, it creates opportunities for students to take more advanced placement and foreign language courses."

The programs offered as part of the Virtual Learning Grant must: be accredited by a nationally recognized High School Accreditation Organization; incorporate a flexible lesson format designed to accommodate differentiated instruction and multiple learning styles; and meet requirements of appropriate state or national standards, and accessible for individuals with disabilities.

The program must also utilize quality instructional materials and appropriate technology critical thinking, problem solving, analysis, integration, and synthesis abilities in learning activities and is supported by research and best practice that enable and enrich student learning and demonstrates rigorous course content. While the program can benefit all students, LEAs are required to ensure that children from military families comprise at least 65 percent of the semester courses offered through this grant.

Alamogordo Public School Schools was awarded a $684,000 grant to fund "Connections!" which will provide rich online learning opportunities through: increased course offerings with expanded utilization of IDEAL New Mexico virtual learning system; Advanced Placement (AP) classes, dual credit, and other specialized courses offered by Advanced Academics; and professional development for building district's online instructional services.

The Anchorage School District received a $1.6 million grant to fund "Project MORE," which responds to an accelerating demand for online coursework driven largely by the needs of military students. To meet this demand, the project will: adapt and activate already-purchased courses for ASD standards and curriculum alignment; purchase additional online courses to help complete core curriculum and electives options; expand online site licenses for credit recovery, graduation requirementsand electives; and support local teaching of online courses by specially trained, highly-qualified teachers.

The San Diego Unified School District received a $2.9 million grant to fund "iHigh Virtual Academy" (iHVA), an online high school within SDUSD which provides a rigorous college-preparatory program for students in grades 9-12. The iHVA is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), with courses approved for University of California (UC) admissions. The iHVA currently offers 16 online UC approved AP courses. The grant will be used to purchase an additional 330 vendor-taught AP or World Language online course enrollments.

The Travis Unified School District received a $1.2 million grant which will fund virtual learning curricula efforts to assist military-connected students in preparing for the California High School Exit Examination and will increase the percentage of children from military families taking AP courses. Virtual learning in elementary schools will be used in conjunction with or as the curricula of the before/after school Response to Intervention (RTI) classes. Classroom teachers will receive in-service professional development and communicate regularly with the 'learning coach' to ensure that they are informed about the Virtual Learning curriculum and student progress.

The Hawaii Department of Education received $2.3 million in virtual learning grants.

Hale Kula Elementary School and Wheeler Middle School will use a blended learning approach to allow teachers to individualize and differentiate instruction for students via technology while also providing face-to-face direct instruction. It also allows for cooperative learning opportunities in classrooms.

A grant was also awarded to expand the virtual learning platform through the Hawaii Virtual Learning Network. This grant provides student centric educational experiences with courses that match student interests and learning styles, ease transitions by offering continuity of educational programs and enhance the educational experiences within and outside the school day.

"The Department of Defense is strongly committed to ensuring that the children of military families receive an excellent education that prepares them for successful careers and to be active contributors to their communities and the nation," said Marilee Fitzgerald, DoDEA Director. "Our partnerships with public schools serving military-connected families are an important part of that commitment."

The Educational Partnership Grant Program provides assistance to support quality programs and strategies to improve academic achievement and learning outcomes of children of military members.

In addition to the Virtual Learning Grant, DoDEA also awarded more than $64 million in grants this year to public schools serving military children throughout the nation. The grants were awarded to 57 military-connected local education agencies (LEAs) to increase student achievement and ease the challenges military students face due to transitions and deployment.

DoDEA consists of the Department of Defense Dependents Schools located overseas, and the Department of Defense Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools located in the U.S. and its territories and possessions. DoDEA provides education to eligible DoD military and civilian dependents from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. DoDEA also provides support and resources to Local Educational Activities throughout the U.S. that serve children of military families.

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