Making a Difference: KET Distance Learning Courses
As budgets shrink and schools across the Commonwealth are asked to foster ever higher student achievement, administrators and teachers are forced to make tough choices. To help, KET offers schools in every county an interactive, challenging, and affordable means to make their dollars go further and, at the same time, achieve their academic goals.
In the 2013-14 school year, KET’s Distance Learning added Spanish I and Chinese II courses to its world language catalog. These dynamic online courses join Honors Physics, AP Physics B, German, Latin, and Chinese, as well as Arts in Culture, a course helping schools meet mandates in the visual and performing arts while offering dual college and high school credit.
Through a combination of the Internet, digital media, and personal contact, KET’s teachers, tutors, and staff provide a unique service designed to give students direct instruction and support. It’s digital learning with a personal touch.
Now, meet a few of these students—and teachers—who have taken advantage of KET’s standards-based, media-rich courses.
“I like everything to be organized so that I can work at my own pace but know what I need to get done ahead of time,” said University of Kentucky engineering student Stephen Parsons, who completed KET’s Advanced Placement Physics and earned the highest grade possible on the AP test for college credit. In fact, KET students who took the AP Physics B test last year averaged a score of 4.44 out of 5.
“This class, of any I have ever taken, was the most suited to that style of learning. I feel quite prepared—just as well as anyone else, if not better—to use the resources I have in order to learn better. I don’t think I would have had that without taking KET’s AP Physics.”
For students like Daniel Noble, who’d been fascinated by German language and culture since he was a child, KET’s German course allowed him to take a class not offered by his school. He eventually pursued it as a college major. His firm background gave him the confidence to apply for a prestigious exchange program sponsored by the German government, which he won in 2007.
Another KET German student, Kelsey Weber of Gravel Switch, also studied in Germany through the same scholarship program, thanks to her preparation from KET Distance Learning.
“It’s not about the grades, it’s learning how to study, learning time management, learning how to write and compose papers,” said Kelsey’s mother, Stephanie, who homeschooled Kelsey and her siblings using KET’s German and Latin course offerings.
The ability to work independently and think and plan for themselves is echoed by Christian Academy of Louisville’s Katherine Magnuson, the facilitator for the school’s Latin courses offered through KET Distance Learning.
“When you remove the traditional setting and go to distance learning, it opens the door for students to go at the pace they want,” she said. “They are learning a level of responsibility that can’t be taught in a traditional classroom.”
The affordability, quality, and effectiveness of these classes keep schools clamoring for more. For example, KET Distance Learning helps schools offer students more choices in world languages and customization in course schedules by providing Kentucky-certified master teachers, especially in subject areas where there is a teacher shortage. KET’s emphasis on helping small and rural districts offer college-prep courses helps spread the cost of hiring a teacher so that many districts share the benefits.
Noble, for example, took the three years of high-school Spanish available to him, but since German was not offered at his school, his guidance counselor suggested he take German I via KET Distance Learning.
“It actually turned out to be a better learning experience for me because I could go at my own pace,” he said. “If I did miss a day of school, I could do my work at home.”
KET works closely with the Kentucky Department of Education to ensure alignment with state digital learning guidelines so school administrators know course content is aligned to approved academic standards and best practices in online learning.
One of the hallmarks of KET Distance Learning over its 25-year history has been the remarkable success of its students on national performance measures such as the AP Physics B test and the National Latin Exam. KET students often outperform their state and national peers.
“I really had the advantage when I got to UK, being able to enter into a 300-level German class,” said Noble. “I think that’s a really good reflection on the quality of KET.”