In 2009, Amarillo Independent School District (AISD) was awarded a Virtual Learning Strand Vision 2020 grant to build capacity to participate in the Texas Virtual School Network and provide students with the opportunity to take online courses through the network. The primary goal of AISD’s Vision 2020 program was to provide staff development and technology-based resources and support to increase the district’s technology content knowledge and access to and use of technological resources. Through increased teaching capabilities, additional technological resources, and support integrated into the classroom, the district hoped to ultimately increase students’ enrollments in online courses, opportunities for meeting graduation requirements, and preparation for college-level coursework.
Along with its partners, AIR conducted both a formative and summative evaluation of the AISD Vision 2020 Virtual Learning Strand grant program. The formative component focused on evaluating the extent to which AISD successfully implemented program components and assessing the extent to which AISD met implementation deadlines and goals. Evaluation activities related to summative assessments included determining the impact of program implementation on project goals and outcomes such as teacher competency levels as measured by STaR Chart ratings, student enrollment and grades in online coursework, and student achievement results (e.g., course credits earned, student performance metrics).
AIR’s study found that the grant program’s online courses accounted for a very small percentage of course enrollments in the 2009–10 and 2010–11 school years but that students were performing well, with all students passing every online class they took.