Online HSA Courses Planned

OCEAN CITY – In an effort to enhance students’ opportunities to pass high school assessments (HSA), online courses are being developed through a partnership with the state, Salisbury University and local teachers.

Marlyn Barrett, Worcester County Coordinator of Instruction, presented the Board of Education with the progress of an online biology course, currently being developed and tested by Worcester County teachers, which will aim to improve HSA scores for students statewide.

A partnership among Eastern Shore counties, Salisbury University Biology teachers and the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) began in April 2007. A Math/Science Partnership grant was received allowing Worcester County teachers to partner with Salisbury University Biology teachers and create an on-line program that will help teachers become more familiar with the Desire to Learn program, an online program developed by the MSDE to train teachers how to use the online biology program that will be available to students struggling in biology.

Worcester County teachers were given the opportunity to participate in a 13-week course, worth three graduate credits. The pilot online course aimed to train teachers to use the HSA online biology master course.

“They were looking for a more affective way to show teachers how to use the online course,” said Barrett.

The online HSA Biology course includes videos, tests, quizzes and a variety of lessons that will give students struggling with the Biology section of the HSA additional help. Teachers will be able to enter students into the database and track their progress through the online course. Students will be able to access the course from school or at home for additional practice and help.

“We’re very, very happy that the state has allowed us to be the first to use this professional development course,” said Barrett.

Worcester County teachers are the first in the state to test the online course, which Barrett reported was 85 percent complete. Once completed, the training course for teachers, as well as the student’s HSA online course, will be available all the time.

“There are no hands on activates, there are no labs involved in this,” Barrett said, noting that lab time would still be done in the classroom. According to Barrett, the online courses cover the entire standard curriculum, and could be used for students on extended medical or sick leave to keep them current with school credits.

“The state is developing these in all HSA areas,” Barrett said.