When a student comes to a K12-powered school, we are committed to ensuring they are on the path to graduation and long-term success. Our awareness that no two students are the same shapes how we serve our students, but it does not detract from our goal that every student should thrive in a career or in college. In our world, goals are not only there to be met, they are there to be exceeded.
Across the country, K12-powered schools have a wealth of resources and tools at their fingertips—both at a regional and national level. But for many folks, the data K12 makes available to track student progress toward graduation is, by far, the most impactful. "Grad Plan" is the crown jewel of informative resources we have been able to deliver.
Grad Plan's Graduation from an Idea to a Resource
The commitment to students and their progress toward graduation has been a core part of K12's mission since day one. All over the country, from Arkansas to Wisconsin, K12-powered schools have been working on ways to measure student progress and use that data to create new, supportive coursework. Prior to the introduction of Grad Plan, schools were using spreadsheets trying to track everything but were getting bogged down in the numbers—and that was limiting their ability to guide students. With all of that information, it was clear we needed to devise a new system to organize it in an efficient way.
Grad Plan was born from a need for greater organization and structure to help schools understand where a student may be excelling—or stumbling—and proactively jump in to change the course of that student's academic trajectory. For the first time, K12 was able to roll out a holistic model for schools to use, limiting time spent on data compilation and introducing a conversation around graduation planning for students.
It wasn't an easy lift to roll this out. At Arkansas Virtual Academy (ARVA) where we used to work together, we had PDFs provided from the state concerning every student's progress. We painstakingly went through all of those documents to get that information into this new platform, which took countless hours, knowing we were creating something transformational for our students. Although our whole team was working to implement this new infrastructure, it was only with K12's capacity to deliver and to provide seamless assistance that we were able to roll out the plan so efficiently.
The (Grad) Plan to Get Students to Their Diploma
High school counselors at K12-powered schools are certainly the ones who work the most with Grad Plan. At ARVA, the counselors always had an informal plan for student graduation progress, but the plans weren't broken down by grade and were distributed to teachers through individually emailed PDF documents. This was tedious and led to human error in data monitoring.
The magic of the Grad Plan program is that it allows the entire support system of a student—parents, Learning Coaches, counselors, and teachers—to track how a student is progressing toward their graduation requirements. While many states already have tracking mechanisms, Grad Plan is more user-friendly to work with on a daily basis. With an easier to use platform, students engage with the tool, and as they become familiar with the features, they use it more frequently to monitor their own progress. At ARVA, we've had more open and effective conversations with parents as we use this living, breathing database to connect with them and work as a team to identify strategies for their students' success.
In turn, schools can track student engagement, providing them another way to unobtrusively chronicle student participation and ownership of their academic development. It's really exciting to see students track their progress. Maybe a student wants to go the medical school route, wants to do a work-based learning program, or take extra science courses. This tool helps students take ownership of their whole high school career. As schools monitor student engagement with the Grad Plan, we can see if students aren't checking in on their progress and need our outreach to get them on track.
The Lens into Student Performance
One of the most valuable features of Grad Plan is that it provides schools and teachers a lens into how students are doing academically. This helps them understand whether what they are doing is working, and if it's not, it often helps them hone in on exactly what they need to adjust to meet their students' needs.
Before Grad Plan, K12-powered schools would have difficulty evaluating how their students were performing at regional or national levels unless they called other schools and asked them. The data they'd likely receive wouldn't even be quantitative, simply anecdotal and lacking the detail needed.
Thanks to the transparency provided by Grad Plan, schools have a more complete understanding of how their students are doing in terms of their progression or their credit earning—whether or not they've been with the school from the start or just joined.
With the Grad Plan tool, schools can show a student what it looks like when their trajectory may be in jeopardy. Together as a team, schools, families, and students map out how the future looks if, for example, there's a risk of adding a fifth year to the high school journey and can flag bumps in the road. All of this helps students to improve their performance and right their course to where they want to be.
The Future of Grad Plan
At ARVA, we currently conduct many individualized online meetings with families and review a student's plan, especially as students pick their classes and head into a new school year. In the future, we hope to have even more of these conversations during the school year and to continue to open new lines of communication with families.
Grad Plan has truly revolutionized the way ARVA supports our students on their way to graduation. Today, the Grad Plan allows us to focus on our number one priority, our students, and to harness the power of data to drive student success. Much like we hope for the future of our students, we hope the future of Grad Plan is limitless.
KEYWORDS: Curriculum, College Readiness, Personalized Learning, Student Support, Unlocking Potential, Student Success