Why is this contract needed?
The School District of Philadelphia (District) conducted a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) process to establish a District-approved list of qualified vendors for online courses and supplemental programs in grades K-12. This action item gives schools and academic offices the ability to purchase math and ELA core instruction supplemental materials to provide differentiated, supplemental, tiered support to general education, English Language Learners, and students who receive special education supports and services in English language arts and mathematics. It also provides high schools the ability to purchase instructional resources to support credit recovery and students who receive special education supports and services. These online courses and supplemental adaptive learning programs are in alignment with the content-specific academic expectations and essential practices outlined in the Equity-based Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) Guidelines within the Academic Framework. The framework includes instructional expectations for tier II and tier III supports for students experiencing learning challenges, as well as essential practices for making learning accessible to all students, particularly students with Individualized Education Plans (IEP) and English learners. The actual costs of licenses and professional development will exceed initial cost projections, necessitating the need for this amendment. Reasons include the expansion of Credit Recovery from 53 schools and programs to 75 in order to include all networks serving high school students, as well as an increased need for professional development to promote implementation fidelity.
How is this work connected to the District’s plan to achieve Goals & Guardrails?
Supplemental online adaptive programs (OAP) by approved qualified vendors aids in implementing the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s MTSS framework to support the individual and small group progress of students towards grade-level expectations and/or exceeding grade-level expectations for MTSS Tiers 1, 2, & 3. Additionally, the effective use of quality supplemental programming is tightly aligned with every goal and guardrail as it contributes to the work of ensuring all students' ability to thrive, succeed, and lead in a global society.
If this is the continuation of a contract, how has success been measured in the past and what specific information do we have to show that it was successful?
The Office of Research and Evaluation examined two primary research questions for OAPs in the 2021-22 school year. Student OAP usage data and student Star data were used as primary sources of data to answer the following: How much did students use the OAP? Did this vary by vendor and by student groups? What is the relationship between usage on OAPs and Star end-of-year score?
There is a direct correlation between strong program usage and improved Star data. Fidelity of implementation data also shows that some outcomes were not increased due to students not reaching the recommended usage targets. Some contributing factors to students not reaching the recommended usage targets include damaged technology, scheduling limitations, and student/teacher buy-in. To support schools in rectifying some of these challenges, the Office of Special Education and Diverse Learners will partner closely with the Office of Educational Technology regarding technology concerns, consult with school leaders on scheduling options and effective MTSS implementation, as well as facilitate additional professional development and school-based support to enhance student/teacher buy-in.
When applicable, is this an evidence-based strategy? If so, what evidence exists to support this approach?
These programs are all backed by timely research conducted in diverse educational settings. This research meets the criteria for “evidence-based” as defined by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
Studies continue to show the increased benefits of a program such as the adaptive model. There are many reported benefits for students if course content is reinforced using the adaptive learning model:
students are able to work at a modified pace to support their learning styles and needs
students experience greater overall success due to their dedication to the content and the just-in-time nature of online adaptive programming
students display increased motivation
increased learning is evident when content is taught and/or reinforced using adaptive learning
When applicable, was a larger community of District community members and/or stakeholders involved in this selection process? If so, what groups and how?
The RFP process to select and approve vendors took place in SY 2020. Stakeholders included the Offices of Academic Supports, Curriculum & Instruction, Post Secondary Readiness, Educational Technology, and Evaluation, Research, & Accountability. Vendors’ online courses and supplemental adaptive programs were selected based on the following criteria: meeting evidence of effectiveness, alignment with state and Common Core standards, ability to adjust based on student areas of challenges and growth, and ability to interface with District systems. The vendors' online courses and supplemental adaptive programs were further selected on the ability to address the needs of students based on specific areas of concern for literacy (phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency, comprehension, vocabulary) and math (computational fluency, fact fluency, math application, algebraic concepts, word problem solving, vocabulary development) with regard to tiered instruction. The selected supplemental programs offer individualized activities in English Language Arts or mathematics based on student skill level and customized activities based on student responses and progress monitoring. These programs serve as supplemental resources to the core instructional program that is teacher-led and designed to enhance Tier 1 instruction for all students.