How This Affects Current Students
TTU K-12 is a virtual program, so teachers and staff continue to work remotely to support our students, with no disruption in classes. Because our students are already online learners, measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 do not heavily affect them. For our full-time students, Gov. Abbott has waived the STAAR testing requirement for this academic year, but we are awaiting further clarification on several points. Below is the statement from the Texas Education Agency.
Statement from Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath
During this unprecedented public health challenge, we at TEA are doing all we can to support our schools and local communities. Given the need for social distancing, schools across the state are closing normal operations, and working to support learning while students remain home.
In normal times, STAAR serves as an invaluable tool to accurately and reliably diagnose how well students have learned to read, write, and do math. This information is used by parents to support the academic growth of their children, and by educators to adjust how they approach teaching to maximize student learning.
This year, though, it has become apparent that schools will be unable to administer STAAR as they would normally. TEA has already waived a host of regulations, allowing schools to quickly pivot to provide instruction and support in ways they never have before. We are thankful for Governor Abbott's willingness to waive the STAAR testing requirement, as it allows schools the maximum flexibility to remain focused on public health while also investing in the capacity to support student learning remotely.
The educators we have been working with across the state remain concerned about the possible impact COVID-19 will have on student academic growth. TEA will continue to support them in every way we can, including ensuring the availability of free tools to diagnose student learning. This will be just as necessary moving forward as it has been, so our dedicated Texas educators have the tools necessary to ensure all our students continue to grow into the best versions of themselves, both during and beyond our current public health challenge.
We also are closely monitoring the changes in the AP Program as it pertains to our AP courses.
Update as of March 20, 2020:
For the 2019–20 exam administration only, students can take a 45-minute online free-response exam at home, traditional face-to-face exam administrations will not take place. The exam will only include topics and skills most AP teachers and students have already covered in class by early March. Beginning on Wednesday, March 25, students and teachers can attend free, live AP review courses, delivered by AP teachers from across the country. For each AP subject, there will be two different testing dates. For more detailed information, visit the AP Program page.
TTU K-12 Graduation and COVID-19
Due to the challenges presented by COVID-19, our commencement ceremony has been postponed until July 25. See new deadlines on the Graduation Preparation page. We know what an important milestone the graduation ceremony is; however, the health and safety of our students, their families and our staff is our primary concern. We hope to see you in Lubbock on the Texas Tech campus on July 25.
Solutions to Finish a Course Immediately
Credit by Examinations (CBEs) offer the flexibility to fully test out of a course that a student feels they have already mastered. TTU K-12 offers more than 150 CBEs to evaluate a student's mastery of a given subject or discipline relative to Texas standards. These exams align with Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and can be used to make up a failed credit or complete a course early. CBEs at TTU K-12 include remote proctoring that alleviates the need for an onsite proctor. Using our remote proctoring tool Proctorio, students are able to take the online exam anytime, anywhere once they are ready, from their home computer.
Tips for Moving Online Quickly
What if your school closes? Then what?
During an emergency such as bad weather or a health threat such as a pandemic, it may not be advisable (or possible) for students and faculty to meet for classes on campus. In that case, it is essential to have a plan to keep the learning momentum go-ing. But don't worry, online learning doesn't mean you have to put up a five-star learning management system right away!
Start low-tech to get online fast, then add high-tech as you are able.
- Assign reading in textbooks and articles.
- Share files through Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides.
- Convert Word and other documents to PDF using Adobe Acrobat or online tools, and email them to students.
- Record lecture or demonstration videos, upload to YouTube, and email links to students.
- Submit assignments by email.
- Communicate over email.
- Create courses and share files through your school's Learning Management System (LMS) such as Blackboard, Canvas, etc.
- Conduct discussions through an LMS forum or use free online discussion boards.
- Complete LMS assignments and quizzes.
- Host live webinars in Blackboard Collaborate, Zoom, etc., or conference calls using Skype or other apps.
- Record videos for display in LMS.
- Post lecture slides in LMS or through Google Slides.
- What content would students typically see in your course? How can this content still be made available?
- What content is available online and through library services?
- What resources have you found valuable? Can they be emailed or made available online?
- How would students typically show they've gained the necessary knowledge or skills?
Create a Course Plan
- Don't reinvent the wheel. Structure your course as closely as possible to what the student encounters on a regular basis. Each school district has a standard, so stick to that in an emergency.
- Determine the delivery of instructional materials (short video lectures, resources, discussions, online quizzes, upload assignments).
- Identify the tools students need to participate in class.
- Determine resources/training you need to teach with these tools.
- Determine resources/support students need to learn with these tools.
- Identify the instruction, projects, activities, and assignments that can be easily moved online.
- Identify possible alternatives for any aspect of the course that cannot be easily moved (e.g., have students video themselves conducting an experiment with materials available at home instead of doing it in a classroom lab).
- Consider students affected by illness or who lose access due to emergency.
Training and Goals
- Review available online training and support resources, for both instructors and students, and bookmark them.
- Familiarize yourself with how to use tools before asking students to use them.
- Coordinate within the district as much possible so the temporary loss of an instructor can be covered smoothly.
- If possible, take the time to conduct a planning/training meeting at a distance for all teachers to coordinate, and know expectations before entering content online and conducting class from a distance.
- Be realistic with expectations for what can be achieved online, especially if students are not experienced learners.
- Create an email template for communicating with students in the event of an emergency.
- Communicate with students as soon as possible, even if you don't have a solid plan in place yet, to let them know that changes are coming up soon.
- Outline your plan for moving the course online.
- Explain any changes that you needed to make and why you made them.
- Identify the hardware and software they will need to participate in the course—and keep it simple!
- Include links to support websites for your school's LMS and/or any software used in your course.
- Include online office hours.
- We all know that things can go wrong occasionally. Just keep your students informed of any issues that come up, and encourage them to keep in touch with you, as well.