Colorado Digital BOCES Expands Students’ Career Technical Education and Elective Offerings
When school leaders rethink what new, innovative schools should look like, it is important they implement models that not only fit their vision, but also support students’ academic needs. To help guide schools through this process, the Colorado Department of Education approved the formation of Colorado Digital Board of Cooperative Education Service (CD BOCES) to act as an online and blended learning expert. Under CD BOCES’ guidance and management, Rocky Mountain Digital Academy (RMDA) and Mountain View Virtual (MVV) are now using best practices vetted by the BOCES including the Fontan Relational Education (FRE) model, Fuel Education™ (FuelEd™) Online Courses, and Career Readiness Pathways™.
“Our goal as a BOCES is to promote quality in blended and online learning,” said Kim McClelland, Executive Director of CD BOCES. “I came across the FRE model while visiting a school in Colombia and saw firsthand how the model helped students get an individualized education and find meaning in their own education. I felt it would be beneficial for students in Colorado to use this model and FuelEd has become a huge partner in making this possible.”
FRE is a student-centered learning model that helps students develop 21st century skills, as well as learn autonomy and goal setting in order to prepare for the complexity of life and work environments. Under the FRE learning model, each student’s learning plan is personalized for their strengths and weaknesses, as well as their interests – making it essential that each school offer a wide range of both core and elective courses. Using FuelEd Online Courses, students at RMDA and MVV can take world languages, fine art, music appreciation, and other high-interest, engaging courses.
Students can also choose to take courses available through FuelEd’s Career Technical Education solution, Career Readiness Pathways™. Students can enter one of four Career Clusters® – business management and administration, health science, information technology, and manufacturing. Each pathway helps students learn skills and prepare for industry-recognized certification exams. Career Readiness Pathways also helps students complete career exploration, develop business skills and more.
Although both schools use FuelEd’s online curriculum, they use it to meet different school missions. RMDA encourages qualifying students to enter its concurrent enrollment program in order to earn credit toward their high school diploma and college degree simultaneously. MVV encourages students to explore their interests through a STEM and work-based learning model so many students take FuelEd Online Courses as electives and courses in Career Readiness Pathways to prepare them for a professional certification and a future career.
As part of its consulting services, CD BOCES is using grant money to help local districts like Lewis-Palmer School District #38 in Monument, Colo., to implement FuelEd Online Courses. The BOCES presented to district staff various online and blended learning techniques, evaluated the district’s needs, and offered to help them implement the online courses from FuelEd. Students at the district are currently taking various math courses such as algebra and geometry, science courses like forensic science and biology, as well as world language courses through FuelEd.
“CD BOCES opened under a unique vision and mission,” said McClelland. “We identify best practices in online and blended learning and then share them with districts, similar to quality assurance. Our hope is that other districts and multi-district online schools will look at our model recommendations, including our use of FuelEd, and use them because they are effective.”