Kramer Middle School to institute online learning

One of D.C.'s lowest performing schools hopes it can "log on" to better grades.

Next school year, students at Kramer Middle School in Southeast will join some of the few students nationwide spending half their time learning online.

Educators call it "blended learning". Students will spend half of each class on their computer, and the other half will be spent with their teacher

Children who have already tested the program out are seeing major success.

Nearly 300 middle school students are getting ready to take the online journey. Students like sixth grader Darius Waters, who in just six months jumped an entire grade level.

" I think I'm having fun at the same time learning," Waters says.

Waters is among 42 Kramer students already getting schooled on math online. He sets goals, can move through coursework at his own pace and can even rewind to hear a lesson again.

"You don't have to wait on other people like when other students need help," Water explains. " I can still be doing my work, because I don't really need help. Just like certain problems, I need help."

Sixth grade math teacher Dulcinea Stuk adds, " I definitely find that students who often have difficulty volunteering in class or feel a little more embarrassed answering questions, they feel like there is a little bit more of a safe space."

Next fall, math, science, English, social studies and even electives will have online coursework.

Kramer Middle School Principal Kwame Simmons says, "We believe that teachers still drive the instruction, but what we're trying to do is carve out space for teachers to have the ability to provide specific feedback, which is what research says drives students achievement beyond the year."

Simmons says of he District's 130 schools, Kramer was one of the 20 lowest performing schools in 2010.

He hopes the new technology will bump up that grade.

State and federal grants will fund the $500,000 blended learning program.