Advanced Academics's Application for the Maine Online Learning Program
1. The online learning provider must be nonsectarian in its programs, admission policies, employment practices and operations.
Demonstrate how your organization meets this requirement and provide documentation that confirms this. URLs linking to supporting evidence are also acceptable.
Advanced Academics has a proven track record in partnering with schools throughout the nation to deliver customizable online learning solutions. These include a web-based curriculum, highly qualified teachers, a 24/7 support environment, and a proprietary technology platform specifically designed for secondary education for students in grades 6-12.
Since its founding by educators in 2000, Advanced Academics has implemented full-time and supplemental online learning programs as well as blended learning programs in 30 states. In 2007, Advanced Academics was acquired by DeVry Inc., a leading provider of education services.
Our Mission. In alignment with the mission of Maine Department of Education, DeVry and Advanced Academics are dedicated to broadening educational opportunities for students. Our mission is simple: to deliver to educators innovative online learning solutions that empower students to achieve their goals. We are committed to creating an online learning environment that helps students realize their full potential, and to providing schools with the tools and support services that they need to make that happen. In short, we utilize technology to enable schools to serve more students in more effective ways.
Our Accreditation. In 2002, Advanced Academics received regional accreditation as a diploma-granting institution from the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI) and, in 2009, accreditation from the Northwest Accreditation Commission (NWAC). Our courses also meet the eligibility standards set forth by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). We gained these accreditations in order to confirm our commitment to student success.
Nearly all of Advanced Academicsí partners require their online providers to be nonsectarian. As such, all AAI content, programs, policies, employment practices, and operations are implemented without regard to ethic groups, race, national origin, color, ancestry, sexual orientation, religion, age, gender, physical or mental disability, or any other legally protected classification.
2. Each course offered for a unit of credit must correlate with applicable state-adopted academic standards prior to being offered. All courses must include assessments.
Demonstrate how your organization meets this requirement and provide documentation that confirms this. Provide an example of a correlation report that demonstrates how a course offered by your organization aligns with state standards. Upon request, within 5 business days an approved Online Learning Provider must be prepared to provide either the Department, or the school administrative unit, a correlation report for any online course being offered.
Advanced Academics curriculum is aligned to Maine standards across all of our grade levels and subject areas. Advanced Academics courses are also aligned with Common Core standards. AAI checks state alignments approximately every two years and checks 21st Century Skills once a year to incorporate these standards and skills into our course materials.
Students who have successfully completed online courses have demonstrated mastery of the Common Core State Standards in English and Math and Maine State Standards in History and Science. A third-party company, Academics Benchmarks, reviews the content of our courses and ensures the courses effectively cover and assess Common Core State Standards.
3. A teacher employed by the online learning provider and providing instruction to students must hold a valid teaching certificate in each content area being taught or receive approval from the commissioner to teach the course.
Demonstrate how your organization meets this requirement and provide documentation that confirms this. Provide a list of those teachers who teach Maine students that includes: the name of the certified teacher, the content areas in which they are certified, the State in which their certification was obtained, and the expiration date of the certification. This list must be updated June 30th and December 30th of each year for which the online learning provider is listed, to reflect changes following the initial application and approval.
Advanced Academics teachers are highly-qualified, with an average of 12 years traditional classroom experience plus extensive training in online learning. The training process for our teachers follows.
4. A teacher employed by the online learning provider must receive appropriate preservice and in-service training pertaining to the organization of the online classroom, programs and courses, the technical aspects of online education, the monitoring of student assessment and other pertinent training.
Describe the pre-service and in-service training, as outlined above, that is provided to teachers in your organization.
All Advanced Academics teachers are hired with extensive experience in the traditional brick-and-mortar classroom; in fact, Advanced Academics average twelve years in the traditional classroom. Advanced Academicsí formal two week teacher training includes critical skills training for the online teacher including online communication skills, online instructional strategies and information about the specific needs of online students and techniques to engage these students. Also, the teachers receive extensive exposure and practice on how to navigate through the ROADS LMS and monitor student progress via the various reporting and data gathering tools. They also are trained in using the internal chat and whiteboard system is also included. Training includes face to face lecture and demonstration as well as hands on practical application. Updates and extensive training sessions are completed for all teachers that deepen knowledge and focus on discrete online teaching skills every three, six, and nine months and once every year. Along with training, teachers participate in a peer facilitated mentoring program that lasts up to one year. Teachers are partnered with a subject area peer who meets with them weekly during the first month. During this meeting, a self-evaluation tool that measures the new teacherís confidence with various teaching tasks is reviewed and areas of concern are addressed. Mentors often sit geographically near the new teacher and help facilitate initial training as well as model skills and answer questions they may have. After the first month formal mentoring meetings occur monthly for up to a year if needed.
5. The online learning provider must verify ongoing student attendance and progress and performance in each course as documented by ongoing assessments in a proctored environment and provide examples of student course work.
Describe how attendance, progress and performance are assessed, and also the level to which assessments are typically proctored online and/or locally.
Progress reports, updated every ten minutes, are available at any time to administrators, students and parents. These progress reports include log-in time, time in course, grade for each assignment and grade for the course. An example of the progress report, which is available to students and parents at all time, will be e-mailed.
In order to maintain integrity and ensure student completion of work, student access to Advanced Academicís LMS is controlled by a strict security system requiring a unique username and password for each student. AAI works with school districts to determine methods for guaranteeing that students complete their own assignments, which may include proctored unit, mid-term, and final exams or blocking of assessments. AAI has also found that recognizing an inconsistency in a studentís assessment pattern and work quality will often be a clue to investigate the assignment authorís identity. Additionally, the adoption of a Plagiarism Policy assists in maintaining high expectations for students to generate original works.
Automatically graded assessments contain large question pools from which assessments are randomly generated, making it nearly impossible for students sitting side by side to work together on any assessment. Every effort is made to guarantee the integrity of assignments and tests. As with any traditional homework assignment in a brick-and-mortar school, there is no guarantee that submitted work has been completed by the student rather than a parent, tutor, or other adult working with him or her. Just as homework assignments and projects assigned in a traditional classroom are expected to be completed by the students themselves, online teachers expect their students to do their own work. Personal integrity is promoted.
Within Blended Online Learning programs, the Midterm and Final tests are almost always proctored and unit tests are often proctored. Students cannot access outside material while within a test.
The R.O.A.D.S. LMS provides detailed information about time spent by each student in each of the studentís enrollments. Because AAI recognizes that fluid communication between parents/guardians, teachers, and students is critical to maintaining a successful educational experience, we provide parents and guardians access to student information through the Parent Portal. The Parent Portal allows parents to run progress reports on their students, showing current grades, time logged in to teach course each day, and the assignments remaining for the student to complete. Parents also have their own internal messaging accounts that they can use to discuss their studentís courses with the teacher, ask questions, or ask for help from the support team.
6. Administrators, teachers and other educational staff employed by the online learning provider must comply with the fingerprinting and national criminal history record check requirements as set forth in section 6103.
Provide evidence of the protocol your organization uses to meet national criminal history record checks. Demonstrate how your organization meets this requirement and provide documentation that confirms this.
A background check is performed prior to hiring of all teachers, including fingerprinting and criminal history record check, meeting the requirements as detailed in section 6103.
7. The online learning program must comply with the State's information technology accessibility policies and standards. Maine’s information technology accessibility policies and standards can be found here:
a. Web accessibility
b. Software accessibility
Describe how your organization complies with these standards and/or provide a copy of the organization’s policy document that demonstrates evidence of this.
Advanced Academics is dedicated to ensuring that course content is fully accessible and equal in quality for all students. Advanced Academics courses meet the standards for section 508 of the Americans with Disabilities Act, complying with Maineís technology accessibility policy and standards.
In ensuring adherence with 508 standards, Advanced Academics' courses are also in compliance with Maine's accessibility policies. A few examples of the ways in which are courses are made accessible are:
- All multimedia (videos, images, Flash games, etc.) are accompanied by text-based activities/documents that provide an equal experience for each student.
- All information that is represented visually is also represented through text.
- All courses are coded in such a way that students who cannot access the courses visually or aurally experience a course of equal quality.