A Case Study of the Nexus Academies, U.S.

Mickey Revenaugh


This chapter presents a case study of the startup of the Nexus Academy blended charter schools by Connections Education in two states. It describes how a series of pilots led to development of Connection's own approach to blended learning, which is structured around data-driven personalized learning for every student in a small high school setting. Implementation challenges and lessons learned are described, along with potential applications of such blended learning models.

Discussion Questions

1. How might a blended learning model like Nexus Academy be adapted for middle school (grades 6-8) or elementary school (grades K-5)?

2. What are some of the key differences between technology-enabled learning and blended learning?

3. Review the blended learning model definitions in Additional Resources. Why do you think the rotation and flex models are prevalent in blended schools today?

4. How do Nexus Academy schools personalize learning, as defined in the National Educational Technology Plan? The plan is listed in Additional Resources below.

Additional Resources

Blended learning model definitions. Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation. Retrieved from

Getting Smart, Online/Blended Learning blog site

Horn, M., and Staker, H. (2014). Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Retrieved from http://www.christenseninstitute.org/publications/blended/#.dpuf

U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology. (2010). Learning: Engage and Empower. In National Educational Technology Plan (pp. 9-24). Retrieved from

Vogt, K. (2014, January 16). Blended learning model types of NGLC breakthrough schools. Retrieved from


Agus, J. (2010). High schools in the United States. Washington, DC: American Institutes for Research, National High School Research Center.

Bettinger, E., & Baker, R. (2011). The effects of student coaching in college: An evaluation of a randomized experiment in student mentoring. NBER Working Paper No. 16881. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research. Retrieved from

Bloom, H., Thompson, S. L., & Unterman, R. (2010). Transforming the high school experience: How New York City’s new small schools are boosting student achievement and graduation rates. New York: MRDC. Retrieved from

Connections Learning. (2012). Blended learning: How brick-and-mortar schools are taking advantage of online learning options. Baltimore, MD: Author. Retrieved from

Horn, M. B., & Staker, H. (2011). The rise of K–12 blended learning. San Mateo, CA: Innosight Institute. Retrieved from

Leithwood, K., & Riehl, C. (2003). What we know about successful school leadership. A report by Division A of AERA. Washington, DC: American Educational Research Association and National Council for School Leadership. Retrieved from

Means, B., Toyama, Y., Murphy, R., Bakia, M., & Jones, K. (2010). Evaluation of evidence-based practices in online learning: A meta-analysis and review of online learning studies (rev. ed.). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development. Retrieved from

Medina, J. (2008). Brain rules: 12 principles for surviving and thriving at work, home, and school. Seattle, WA: Pear Press.

National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. (2013, January 11). The public charter schools dashboard: Schools by grade configuration. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from http://dashboard.publiccharters.org/dashboard/schools/page/conf/year/2012

Staker, H., & Horn, H. B. (2012). Classifying K–12 blended learning. San Mateo, CA: Innosight Institute. Retrieved from

Vander Ark, T. (2012, November 4). What’s next? A flex plus school model by ConnectionsEducation. Education Week. Retrieved from http:blogs.edweek.org/edweek/on_innovation/2012/11/whats_next_a_flex_plus_school_model_by_connections_education.html

Watson, J., Murin, A., Vashaw, L., Gemin, B., & Rapp, C. (2012). Keeping pace with K–12 online and blended learning//. Durango, CO: Evergreen Education Group. Retrieved from http://www.kpk12.com