This city’s blended learning program has led to a big culture shift

By Lucille Renwick
August 11th, 2016

A four-year-old blended learning push in D.C. is changing how teachers lead their classrooms


Key takeaways:

  • A blended learning program in D.C. began in 2012 is freeing up time for more project-based learning by pairing ELA and math software with individualized lessons.
  • Both national and local grants are providing much of the funding.
  • A training program is helping teachers rethink lessons for blended learning.
  • One school has seen an 11-point increase in its math proficiency rate and a 4.5-point increase in reading.
  • “We’ve seen a real culture shift here and I suspect that we’ll see continued changes and a lot of success,” said one district ed-tech leader.

For the past two years, the Washington, D.C. Public School District (DCPS) has earned a sort of celebrity status with lawmakers, superintendents, and think tank heads filing in to see what, and especially how, students are learning. They have a good reason to visit. In a district that has been plagued with low test scores and student performance, several D.C. schools have seen student proficiency levels jump in math and reading in recent years.

Part of their success has hinged on the way teachers are using blended learning in the classroom.

“Blended learning definitely has been an important factor in the changes we’ve seen in our students, our teachers, and in our schools,” says David Rose, deputy chief in the district’s Dept. of Educational Technology and Library Programs.

In its simplest form, blended learning programs combine face-to-face instruction with personalized online learning using adaptive courseware that gives students some control over their pace and content of instruction.

Next page: How it works in practice

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