Overview of Sevenstar’s Strategic Plan

Sevenstar announced organizational changes this April 2018 as part of a strategic plan to further strengthen the company’s focus on quality, growth, and innovation. Sevenstar is making these changes to improve the entire experience for our schools, students, and instructors. We want you to continue to be a part of our growth and invite you to return to our instructional services team.

Overview – Need for Improvements

 

In recent years, Sevenstar has experienced a plateau in enrollment growth.  Why has this happened?  What can we do to grow?  Sevenstar tackled these questions by:

  • completing an industry and market analysis to identify key opportunities and threats.*
  • soliciting customer insights to determine current satisfaction and future demands. *
  • collecting employee input to determine strengths and weaknesses. *
  • revisiting and revising our core mission, vision, and values to solidify what drives us.
  • establishing organization-wide goals that impact the focus of work in each department.
  • restructuring our teams to align with our objectives that will address identified issues, increase our strengths, and manage performance.

*These data points are the driving force for our company’s key performance indicators.

 

Strategic Goals – Plans for Growth

 

Sevenstar has established three goals for the organization to drive student success and enrollment growth by ensuring that everything we do furthers our vision, mission, and values.  Each of the goals will be measured through defined metrics, and progress will be determined through the performance indicators included in this plan.

 

Instructors – Support for Student Learning

 

Instructors will continue to focus on supporting students in their online courses by ensuring that students complete assignments and achieve learning outcomes.  Instructors will provide excellent academic support to each student in their course in an asynchronous learning environment.  Specifically, instructors will:

  • provide timely grading of assignments and responses to student communication.
  • give constructive feedback on learning activities that promote students’ mastery of content.
  • monitor student progress in a course to encourage engagement, pacing, and academic integrity.
  • identify struggling students early and assist with student retention efforts through an at-risk intervention program.
  • maintain efficient record keeping procedures in learning management and student information systems.
  • actively participate in professional development activities and carry out best practices for online instruction with Sevenstar course facilitation model.
  • collaborate with instructional services team to review student progress data to promote student achievement, individualize student learning, and increase course completion rates.

Instructors are not required to respond, grade, or conduct office hours on these dates:

  • Saturdays and Sundays
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Easter Break
  • Thanksgiving Break
  • Christmas Break

 

A message from our Director of Instructional Services, Christina Paulk:

 

Academic Policies – Updates

 

Sevenstar will implement flexible student progression strategies to support student learning, engagement, and course completion.  Although students are enrolled in courses with a specified start and end date, they will be afforded the opportunity to move through the course content to meet assigned requirements on their own time, in their own location, and at their own pace while being guided by the instructor of their course.

In an effort to support student learning and mastery of course material, learning outcomes are assessed through course assignments and assessments. As such, credit is awarded only for courses in which a cumulative semester grade of 60% or higher is earned through the completion of assignments and assessments (including semester exams) and the criteria of the enrollment duration policy are satisfied. A passing grade must be earned in both semesters of a two semester course in order to be awarded the full 1.0 credit. A 0.5 credit will be awarded for a passing grade in a single semester.

*A week is defined as starting on Monday 12:00 AM ET and ending on Sunday 11:59 PM ET.

Students will be encouraged to:

  • move through a course in sequence and to complete assignments in order with the suggested pacing schedule.
  • interact directly with the course instructor through appropriate communication tools.
  • seek support from the instructor as needed through the enrollment period.
  • respond to all instructor inquiries and requests for communication.
  • review instructor feedback on assigned work to clarify misconceptions, confirm understanding of course materials, and prepare for semester exams.

 ACADEMIC INTEGRITY

This policy replaces the former Academic Honesty Policy and focuses more on defining the standard of integrity that is expected from students than prescribing consequences for violations. We want Sevenstar to be a continuation of our partner school’s program, so this policy affords school administrators the opportunity to be consulted in deciding appropriate consequences, when necessary. We will continue to investigate and identify violations of academic integrity.

A high standard of ethical behavior, scholarship, academic honesty, and integrity is expected from every student. To that end, any infractions that create or result in an unfair academic advantage for one student or disadvantage for another will be investigated. Infractions that are deemed to be in violation of this academic integrity standard encompass any act that compromises or subverts the integrity of the educational or research process. These offenses include, but are not limited to: cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, and facilitation by:

 

  • Submitting work, in whole or part, that is not one’s own without proper citation.

  • Copying answers from peers during an examination.

  • Using notes/materials during a semester exam without written instruction to do so.

  • Permitting another student to copy one’s work.

  • Submitting work previously submitted in another class without appropriate citation and/or permission of the instructor.

  • Otherwise misrepresenting academic achievement for evaluation or a grade.

 

Suspected academic integrity violations will be reported to the Sevenstar administration and appropriate consequences will be established in coordination with the student’s family and/or school, based on the severity of the violation.

 


PROCTORED SEMESTER EXAMS

This simplified policy replaces the former document titled Proctor Procedures and Expectations for Taking Online Exams. All semester exams will remain password protected and require an adult proctor, but we have simplified and streamlined the processes for designating proctors and receiving exam passwords. These new processes will be outlined before the policy becomes effective.

The purpose of semester exams is to assist in validating that students have demonstrated mastery of key course concepts and learning standards. Semester exams are not the sole determiner of student achievement; however, students are required to take these exams in order to be eligible for course credit. To maintain academic integrity, all semester exams are required to be proctored by an adult selected by the enrolling party (either family and/or school).

 

Prior to and/or during each exam, the proctor will:

  • Review Sevenstar’s academic integrity policy and monitor student adherence to it.

  • Provide a distraction free environment for student testing.

  • Ensure instructions are followed and only approved materials are utilized.

  • Verify the identity of the student taking the semester exam.

   


 GRADING AND COURSE CREDIT

This new policy encompasses former practices concerning pacing concerns (such as target due dates, late work, and skipped assignments) and the issuance of credit.

In an effort to support student learning and mastery of course material, learning outcomes are assessed through course assignments and assessments. As such, credit is awarded only for courses in which a cumulative semester grade of 60% or higher is earned through the completion of assignments and assessments (including semester exams) and the criteria of the enrollment duration policy are satisfied. A passing grade must be earned in both semesters of a two-semester course in order to be awarded the full 1.0 credit. A 0.5 credit will be awarded for a passing grade in a single semester.

Grading and Pacing:

The following grading scale applies:

 

To ensure adequate time for comprehension and mastery, students should work consistently and regularly in their courses. While the pacing schedule provides a target due date for each assignment in the grade book, students should also work in the course between the target due dates on reading and learning activities. Consistent engagement, through the timely submission of all assignments and assessments, will encourage persistence in the course and provide students with ongoing feedback and support from the instructor.

As students move through a course:

  • Assignments may be submitted ahead of the target due dates; however, students may not complete a 0.5 credit in less than 6 weeks or a 1.0 credit in less than 12 weeks (see enrollment duration policy).
  • Late assignments will be graded with a temporary 0% starting on the 15th day after the target due date. All late assignments may be submitted before the semester exam, however any assignments submitted 15 or more days after the target due date will be graded with a 30% late work penalty. Once the semester exam is completed, all incomplete assignments will become a permanent 0%. No work is permitted to be submitted after the semester exam has been completed.
  • Skipped assignments will be graded with a temporary 0%. Skipped assignments may be submitted before the semester exam to earn a grade. However, if the skipped assignment is submitted 15 or more days after the target due date, it will be graded with a 30% late work penalty.
  • In accordance with the enrollment changes policy, an enrollment change may be requested at any time to adjust the pacing schedule; however, students may not be enrolled in a 0.5 credit course for more than 6 months or a 1.0 credit course for more than 12 months from the original start date in the course.

 

Students will not have target due dates and instructors are not required to respond, grade, or conduct office hours on the following dates:

  • Saturdays and Sundays
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Easter break
  • Thanksgiving break
  • Christmas break (Observed for two weeks around December 25th and January 1st with the goal of returning to coursework on January 3rd.)

 


 Withdrawal and Incomplete Courses:

This section further refines the former Late Work Policy. Students will be assigned an “Incomplete” if they reach the course end date without completing the semester exam or if they are inactive in the course for a period of 30 days without requesting an enrollment change. Students will be assigned a “Withdrawal” if the enrolling party requests a student be withdrawn from a course before all assignments are completed. After being assigned a withdrawal or incomplete, students will be permitted to complete their course within the maximum allowable time period (defined in the enrollment policies below), at the request of the enrolling party.

An incomplete (“I”) or withdrawal (“W”) may be assigned when students have started working in a course but have not completed all required assignments. Upon request, students may be permitted to complete course work prior to the end of the maximum allowable enrollment time. No credit is awarded for an incomplete or withdrawal; It is not denoted on the Sevenstar transcript, therefore, has no affect on GPA.

A student will automatically be dropped from a course and receive an incomplete (“I”) if:

  • he/she reaches the course end date without having completed the semester exam.

  • a period of 30 days of inactivity passes without the enrolling party (school and/or family) having requested an enrollment change.

 

Students will be dropped from a course and receive a withdrawal (“W”) if:

  • the enrolling party (school and/or family) requests a student to be withdrawn from a course before all assignments are completed.

 



ENROLLMENT POLICIES

 

ENROLLMENT DURATION

In order to account for unexpected delays, it is recommended that students be initially enrolled in each course for the maximum allowable time period. However, any duration requested by the enrolling party (either family and/or school) will be honored within these parameters:

1. In order to earn credit, a student must submit at least one assignment each week during the minimum allowable time period or complete at least the minimum number of hours of active course participation inside the learning management system. A week is defined as starting on Monday 12:00 AM ET and ending on Sunday 11:59 PM ET.

 

ENROLLMENT CHANGES

A student occasionally needs to make changes to his/her initially requested enrollment duration due to illness, vacations, or other life circumstances. As such, the following enrollment changes are accommodated free of charge:

Course Delay:

A course delay allows a student to delay the start of his/her course without affecting the enrollment duration. Delays requested prior to originally requested start date will adjust the target due dates and the maximum allowable time period accordingly. Once the originally requested start date has passed, the maximum allowable time period begins and a course pause or extension are the only mechanisms for adjusting target due dates.

Course Pause:

A course pause is essentially a formal communication to Sevenstar or the instructor that a student will not be working in his/her course for a specified period of time. Giving such notice allows target due dates to be adjusted but the paused period is still counted toward the maximum allowable time period.

Course Extension:

A course extension can be requested at any time to allow a student to move his/her originally selected course end date. If the extension requires the total enrollment duration to exceed the maximum allowable time, the course will have to be repurchased.

 

ENROLLMENT REFUNDS

At the request of the family and/or school, a student may be withdrawn from a course or switched to a different course, subject to the following schedule of transcript implications and refunds:

  

  1. Time calculated from the enrollment date (the date student receives enrollment confirmation email) which is different than the start date of the course.

  2. Refunds are not applicable for dual credit or ESL courses; nor student registration, application or pre-testing fees.

 

Refunds will be made by check or credit card to the original purchaser.

 


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