Berkshire School District Continues Trial of Online Education to Prevent Dropouts

Jun 15, 2012

The Adams-Cheshire Regional School District voted this week at a district committee meeting to continue evaluating an online education program called PLATO, as a means to curb the high school’s dropout rate. The PLATO program or Programmed Logic for Automatic Teaching Operations was first purchased by the district in 2011 and can be used for test preparation, expanded learning, and credit replacement.

Supervisor of Special Services for the district Christopher Sposato says that an online system, such as PLATO, allows students to relearn courses at their own pace until they master a particular lesson.

Sposato mentioned that online learning as opposed to traditional summer school settings is not measured by seat-time, but skill retention. He mentioned that in the Adams-Cheshire District, it can be used not only to recover credits for graduation age students, but also to keep younger high schoolers on pace.

Susan Patrick, President and CEO of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, a national-based non-profit education advocacy group, says that a majority of public schools nationwide now use online learning software.

Patrick also mentioned that the flexibility, mobility, and mastery-focused strategy of online learning can provide an alternative learning environment to a student that may feel overwhelmed in a traditional classroom setting.

Susan Patrick also discussed the rise of Bring Your Own Device programs becoming for prevalent in schools across the nation. Just recently a school district in Bennington, Vermont announced they would begin a strategy where students would bring in their own laptops, tablets, and smartphones to use as an extra tool in the classroom, to not only enhance education but also learn safe online habits.

Massachusetts State Representative Alice Hanlon Peisch, Chair of the Joint Committee on Education, said that a bill that would set standards and guidelines for online schools is currently in the House Ways and Means Committee and anticipates it will be addressed before the session is over in July.