Connects Learning Center serves grades 9 to 12 from 4 surrounding high schools. Students apply for admissions to take part in self-paced learning and receive a more individualized approach to earning their diploma.

Connects Learning Center

Challenge

Four high schools needed a place for students struggling in the traditional school environment. Connects Learning Center was created as an answer in 2001 as a charter school with one goal for students: Just get a diploma. The program has grown and is no longer a charter school. The Connects staff saw a need for an offering with more rigor—a program that went beyond the experience of “clicking through” material or completing worksheets. The evolution of Connects includes its 2009 implementation of Odysseyware digital curriculum, which offers students an engaging and well-rounded educational experience. This includes consistency of curriculum, customization for Career Pathways courses, and efficient use of resources. Connects has the flexibility to deliver an engaging and well-rounded educational experience to credit-deficient students, accelerated students, and those with special or medical needs. 

Consitency

Consistency with Curriculum: As it has since 2009, Connects works with the district’s high school department chairs to build courses in accordance with the material being taught in traditional classrooms. This same-quality, different-format approach has helped Connects develop acceptance among classroom teachers, which allows for smoother interactions and transitions for students.

ELL

Connects usually has one or two English Language Learners (ELL students) at a time, but 16 to 17 other students are also present. Adamczyk appreciates Odysseyware’s text-to-speech function, wherein students can read material as they hear it, saying it “has helped out immensely.”

CTE

Customization for Career Pathways Courses: Odysseyware materials and courses are instrumental in assisting students as they figure out their areas of interest for potential careers. Once a student has narrowed their interest down to a particular subject or field, the Connects team can create a project-based class that enables the student to earn credit while receiving hands-on experience, thus building confidence and raising the student’s awareness of available options.

SPED

The range of skill levels in this group is wide, and Odysseyware enables the instructors to customize and facilitate the coursework accordingly. These personal learning paths help build skills to get back to grade level. In some cases, students who suffer from mental health or addiction issues can split their day between Connects and an appropriate treatment program. This group also includes students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), who are in special education programs and may only be at a third- or fourth-grade reading level.

Results

The program’s overall graduation rate is over 90%, with an average dropout rate of less than 5% of students per year. Odysseyware enables Connects to serve a wider population of students and, as Stacey Adamczyk said, “to help them plan their future beyond high school--not just earn their diploma” The district is very supportive of Connects, because, Adamczyk said, “We work with the kids that, for whatever reason, they couldn’t reach. The students weren’t engaged and they come here and we completely engage them.”

DISTRICT
Consortium- Oack Creek-Franklin Joint, Cudahy, Franklin, South Milwaukie

LOCATION
Cudahy, WI

STUDENT POPULATION
  • OCFJSD: 6,400 Students | 4 Schools
  • Connects Learning Center, 2001: 15
  • Connects Learning Center, 2017: 150

Image: 
Connects Learning Center