Colorado hybrid school taps into personalized learning

Achievement increasing by up to 240 percent in math and reading

personalized-solutionAt Poudre School District Global Academy (PGA), a hybrid school in Fort Collins, Colo., students attend blended classes on campus and take online courses from home, and district educators say a personalized learning solution has had a positive impact in a number of academic areas.

Scores for grades 2-8 in math and reading on year-to-year Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessments show 140 to 240 percent growth, with the highest scores in grades 6-8—when students typically see a slight decline.

In this K-12 school serving almost 200 students, the successes don’t end there. The number of high school students being held back a grade dropped in the 2014-15 school year by nearly two-thirds—from 19 down to 7. And, the high school completion rate for secondary classes as well as college-credit bearing courses increased as well through PGA’s concurrent enrollment program with local colleges.

PGA partners with Fuel Education (FuelEd), which provides personalized learning solutions designed to enable schools and districts to implement successful online and blended learning programs. Using FuelEd online curriculum and content, PGA students work at their own pace at home three days per week, and attend teacher-led classes on campus the other two days each week.

The FuelEd curriculum is tailored to each student’s unique needs, and allows for integration of teacher-created content. “Our teachers are rock stars,” said Heather Hiebsch, PGA principal. “They look at the data to see what the students are mastering and where they have gaps. It’s not ‘What do I plan to teach today?’ but rather ‘What do these individual students need to learn today?’”

For the core courses, PGA employs its own local teachers, who oversee instruction for students whether learning at home or at school. For the elective courses offered through FuelEd, PGA uses FuelEd’s certified instructors.

“FuelEd really listens to us,” said Hiebsch. “I can tell them that I want to try something or that I think something is coming next, and I have their ear. They are flexible and responsive to what we want and need.”

In addition to the high quality online curriculum and dedicated educators, Hiebsch attributes PGA’s success to the hybrid learning model, parental involvement, and “the community we’ve built,” she said.

Since opening in 2009 as a credit recovery and dropout prevention school, PGA has transformed into a small, personalized school serving a mix of former homeschoolers and students coming from traditional schools. Their learning needs are as diverse as in any traditional school—from those with learning disabilities to those seeking Advanced Placement (AP) courses.


Since the school opened, more than 500 PGA students have used Fuel Education curriculum. In addition, each school year about 500 students at other Poudre School District schools take supplemental online courses, such as AP courses, world languages and electives, provided by FuelEd.


Material from a press release was used in this report.

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