Organizational Profile

Organizational Environment:

Educational Program and Service Offerings:

Orion High School offers services for students who are in grades 6-Adult, culminating with a high school diploma, for students who meet the diploma eligibility criteria. Orion High School utilizes a proprietary LMS, devleoped by the founder, in order to deploy the course content to students.  Core courses have been developed in the areas of English Language Arts/Reading, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, for 6th grade - Adult, as well as a large number of Elective Courses.  Advanced Placement courses have been developed and have been approved as appropriate, by The College Board.

Deployed courses are developed and are revised as needed, to meet the changing standards via the regulatory environment.    Students utilize the courses/content in order to learn the content standards required for each course.  Courses must meet our quality standards (through the Protocol for Content Development), in order to be deployed to students.  It is imperative that the courses deployed both meet the Protocol, and are vetted for quality, but, it is important for our students to be able to navigate the content seamlessly, and to be able to acquire the requisite knowledge through each modules as it is constructed. 

Mission, Vision, and Values

As the premier online high school in the country, we are helping students achieve their goal of high school graduation and we are producing students who are high performers beyond graduation.

Empowering Learning. Renewing Hope. - This is the Vision that we espouse.

As a simple slogan and vision, these four words espouse the founder's vision of empowering individuals to take charge of their own learning, while renewing hope in the promise of education.  Simple, but powerful.

Core values reflect our organization's growth and human capital.  Our values are reflective of how we do business, what we hold true within our culture, and how we intend to continue to institutionalize a culture of quality.  To that end, our values have changes through the same quality improvement processes espoused within the Baldrige Criteria:

Our Values into 2016-2017
  • Systems perspective
  • Visionary leadership
  • Student-centered excellence
  • Valuing people
  • Organizational learning and agility
  • Focus on success
  • Managing for innovation
  • Management by fact
  • Societal responsibility
  • Ethics and transparency
  • Delivering value and results


A school founded by classroom teachers, Orion continues deploy the following beliefs about digital learning:

  • Orion believes that all learners, regardless of their past history with education, deserve a high quality, flexible way to learn content in a rich, supportive, online environment.
  • Orion believes that learning is active and not passive; that online content can be rigorous and challenging, but can help learners exceed their own expectations for learning.
  • Orion believes that content is not compartmentalized.  Content must be integrated to be meaningful, that is, to provide meaningful learning for our own learners.
  • Orion believes that improvement is continuous and that Orion's existence is critical for learners who need to be challenged and who need to be provided with the support necessary to be part of a high performing world outside of our schools.


Orion Online Learning is an S-Corporation, formed by four partners, in 2007.  The S-Corporation currently has two partners, Dr. Joseph Gallegos and Dr. Jeanne Morales.  Dr. Morales serves as the corporate Vice-President and Dr. Gallegos serves as President.  Dr. Morales also serves as General Counsel to the corporation and to the schools.

Workforce Profile and Results:

Orion's focus is on providing the most qualified, certified teachers to work with our learners.  Teachers (called Mentors at Orion), are required to be certified by the regulatory agency in their State of residence.  Industry professionals are recruited as well, in order to work with our learners in the areas of Pharmacy Technician and in Engineering Courses.  Those Mentors typically will have industry qualifications and/or an advanced degree in the field.  Mentors receive induction training before beginning with live learners at Orion.  In the induction/online course, Mentors learn how to navigate the online classroom, and learn how to use Orion's Mentor Center (an online self-help and learning center for Mentors), in order to hone their skills throughout their work with Orion.  Learners who receive services from the mentor are provided with an end-of-course survey where they provide feedback in the areas related to customer service.  The data are collected using a Likert scale from 1-5, with 1 being the lowest level of satisfaction, and five being the highest.  The data are averaged for representation on the dashboard.

Workforce Indicators of Performance:

  • Supporting the current mentors in professional activities that will enable them to be high performers for our learners.  The activities will be online via the Mentor Center, as well as a focused convening (live) of the Mentors and Staff. By supporting and assisting our mentors, they in turn are equipped to provide the highest quality services to our learners.
  • Supporting mentors and staff to utilize the tools in the Mentor Center.  Tools in the Mentor Center change with technological advances.  We change with those to provide our Mentors with the tools they need to be able to engage our learners in the highest quality digital learning and engagement.
  • Providing ongoing coaching and mentoring of mentors through the digital learning environment.  The coaching is defined in the Mentor Center, and requires the participation of a Coach to provide feedback following learner sessions.  We provide ongoing coaching and mentoring in order to equip our mentors with peer feedback related to the engagement of learners in the digital classroom.
  • Update our LMS in order to improve quality of tools such as the grade book, and video conferencing, as well as ease of navigation and operation for our mentors.  We do this so that our learners may benefit by having a mentor who is equipped to manage a digital classroom that provides the tools necessary for engagement and learning.
  • Continuous improvement and addition of Mentoring videos and handbook to provide the just in time training necessary for mentors to provide high quality services to learners.
  • Recruit staff through external networking (current mentors nominate colleagues for mentoring positions at Orion).
  • Quarterly supervision of Mentors through a coaching model in order to maintin Orion's quality standards

Because our learners benefit from our direct work with our Workforce, we purposefully gather data to determine directly from our learners, the extent to which our Mentors have helped them benefit from our Mentor Supports.  The addition of the last data point, related to learner success, is defined in the survey as:  "I feel successful after engaging with my Mentor each week."  Here are the results, aggregated by Likert.  For example, if a gauge indicates "88", that means that 88 respondents rated the indicated scale average (1, 2, 3, 4, or 5).

Regulatory Requirements

Orion operates under the following regulatory requirements:

  • Advanced Education (AdvancED) Digital Learning Assurances and Educational Practices.  Accreditation is voluntary, and requires Orion to maintain accreditation by ensuring that the Educational Practices defined by the Advance Education Corporation, are followed by Orion, and are revised when required by the regulator. 
  • The key regulatory requirements as required by Advanced Education, align to to "applicable State laws", as defined by the regulator.
  • Orion was reviewed for accreditation renewal in 2015, and was renewed until 2020.  The results of the review are in the "Additional Results" section.

Organizational Relationships

Organizational Structure

Orion Online Learning, Incorporated, is classified as an S-Corporation.  The Board of Directors govern the Corporation's general functions, and defer to Orion High School's internal structures to lead the operation of the school, as well as to oversee the formation of the schools and to monitor the corporate assets, which include all financial assets as well as trademarks owned by the corporation.  The Board of Directors do not function as a school board.  Dr. Joseph Gallegos operates the corporate offices, which also serve as the schools' headquarters offices, in Midland, Texas.  Dr. Gallegos serves as the policy making decision maker for all operations of the schools, and he seeks advice from stakeholders such as current learners, parents, mentors, and staff.  A Lead Mentor is identified annually, in order to gather input from Mentors and from other stakeholders.  That input is gathered formally during the annual meeting of the school's Mentors and Staff, and the work at that annual meeting drives the focused commitment from the stakeholders.  Learner Engagement is the focus of the work for April 2016-March 2017.  Results of the Learner Engagement Conference, below are related to both engagement as well as to Formative Tasks which influence learning.

The purposeful decision-making structure is intended to remove all barriers for decisions affecting the operation of Orion High School.  The policies of the schools are purposefully intended to be small in number so to not impede the continuous improvement of services to our customers; however, policies that are affected by the regulatory environment are adapted to ensure compliance.  (See AdvancED Educational Practices for Digital Schools).

Students, Other Customers, and Stakeholders

The key market segments are students who wish to enroll at Orion in grades 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and Adults who wish to become diploma eligible.  That market segment, called full-time students, is the focus of our work, and is the segment that encompasses the majority of our enrollment.  The second segment of students comes from students who take courses at Orion, and transfer those course credits/grades to their full-time school.  That market segment is termed "credit transfer learners."  Orion High School's stakeholder groups include internal stakeholders (Mentors and Staff), as well as external stakeholders/customers such as parents of underage students, and organizations who wish to assist students in enrolling at Orion High School.  Stakeholder relationships may exist where a partnership is sought with the intention of engaging dropouts or potential dropouts.  Those stakeholder relationships may exist as a an informal or formal relationship.  Current relationships exist with Camden County High School (Georgia) and with Southern Dreams of Mississippi.

The charts below are indicative of the enrollments over time as well as the customer demographics of the school.



 Introduction to Continuous Improvement at Orion-A Systems Approach

Since our opening, Orion has ensured that quality continuous improvement is top priority in meeting the mission, vision, and priorities for our pioneering digital school.  To that end, we have espoused the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence as the means to get to higher quality in the strategic areas we have determined are necessary to remain competitive and to offer the highest quality digital learning for learners in the 21st century.   The value of the Baldridge Criteria, for our school, is in built-in reflection about the performance of the organization.  Two critical questions drive both the reflection about our work, and the conversations about the priorities that we must set for continuous improvement.  Those questions are:

  • How well is each learner doing?
  • How can we improve the learning of each learner?

Additional reflection causes us to also think about the impact of our internal and external processes on our customers:

  • What are the levels of satisfaction and dissatisfaction of learners, parents, and mentors?
  • How well do we communicate with stakeholders and monitor the progress of all learners?
  • How well and how often does the school collect and analyze data? How is that communicated to our customers and stakeholders?
  • What resources, including opportunities for our learning about digital schooling, do we have in place to support the achievement of our learners?

A Systems Approach

A systems approach requires us to have internal and external processes that contain actions that can be easily deployed.  The inherent benefit of using a systems approach is that processes can be improved at the lowest level possible, within the organization.  What does that mean?  That means that in our system, when an employee, who works within a process day in and day out, has the most knowledge about that process, therefore, has the ability to continuously improve on that process.  For example, the registrar has a process for the requesting of and transfer records from a new learner's originating school.  There are certain communication points that occur during that process, and the process a definite starting and ending point (the records are acquired and they are input).  The registrar works closely within this process each and every day, therefore, the process improvement at her level makes the most sense.  It would not make sense for Dr. Gallegos to improve the process from his vantage point, because he does not work as close to the process as does the registrar.  A simple approach to process improvement is this:

  • Plan - Plan for the process.  Clearly define the process.
  • Do - Deploy the process.  Put the process into action.
  • Study - Study the effectiveness of the process.  Gather data from customers and stakeholder affected by the process.
  • Act  - Use the data to act upon the process, thereby improving the process.  Start over with Plan.

At Orion, the following systems are critical to our operations and sustainability.  Together these systems cause us to better understand a systems approach to digital learning:

  • Leadership System - Processes must be in place to engage our customers; to sustain the organization; to review the organization's performance against the criteria; to be socially responsible; to govern ethically and responsibly; and to plan for succession.
  • Operations System - Deployable, clearly defined processes are in place so that the school operations effectively.  A smooth workflow, supported by the internal processes, allows for the smooth, day-to-day, operation of the school.
  • Workforce System - Processes must be in place in order to engage our workforce (employees/internal customers), as well as our external vendors who provide instructional and other support services to our school.  Engagement includes collaboration about our systems approach, with a focus on digital learning.
  • Knowledge Management System - Processes to support the gathering of knowledge as we learn what we didn't know before.  A sound system deploys processes which are supported by research, and then collects reliable data in order to manage by fact.  At our school, we must consistently ask ourselves:  What do we know now, that we didn't know before? How do we use that knowledge to benefit our learners?
  • Customer System - In our customer system, we develop content and have a revision schedule for that content.  Our content (as well as our LMS), must be understand and easily navigable by our customers.  Our culture around digital learning extends beyond multiple choice assessments (which often cause 'management by bad results), into a clearer understanding about how formative tasks can better inform us about learning.  In a customer system, we take feedback, including complaint feedback, and we build a culture of understanding, inclusion, and customer engagement. 
  • Planning System - A planning system for long-range and short-term goals requires us to think deeper about the deployment of such a system.  A planning system takes the input of our customers (internal and external), and causes to place into our dashboard, the collection of data and results that inform those goals.


Below, we indicators of performance, that align to defined, as well as regulatory, improvement areas.  Some data is shown above (related to customer service).  The data collection, below, called The Digital Dashboard,  helps to understand how we do what we do, and how we have ensured that quality improvement without beuracracy has and will yield high performance for our learners, mentors, and staff members.        


The Dashboard represents key areas of organizational performance represented by the most current results of data collected over time.



Dashboard Chart 1 - Performance Indicator 1:  Customer Service

Definition:  Learners will be satisfied with five key areas of service:

  • feedback
  • mentor availability
  • support services
  • flow of content (including navigation)
  • reliability and uptime of CMS and LMS

Data Collection:  Survey Data are collected at end-of-term, using the Customer Satisfaction Survey.  The customer satisfaction survey measure on a Likert Scale of 1-5, with 1 being the lowest score assigned.  The scale is converted to a 100% scale with an average of 5 being 100% on the gauge.

In addition to survey data, monthly calls to learners and parents occur, as well as orientation surveys.  The surveys are collected over time.  Graduate feedback is represented as qualitative data in another gauge.

Improvements over time:  Pre and post course surveys were initiated in 2012, and were revised in 2014, and again in 2015 to better align with the organization's performance indicator and the update of the LMS.  As a result of feedback, the following improvement areas have been identified in order to increase customer satisfaction:

  1. Mentor training was identified in the areas of learner engagement.
  2. A review visit by Adavnce Education resulted in two improvement priorities within this context: The school must, "Provide and document a comprehensive and systematic assessment system that effectively demonstrates student mastery of the content/subject. The school must, "Provide, document and implement a systematic program to train professional and support personnel in the evaluation, interpretation, and use of data.

Results - First, the Customer Satisfaction Survey Results:


How the Advance Education Improvement Priorities are Deployed

Advance Education identified two "Improvement Priorities", identified above.  For the first Improvement Priority:  "Provide and document a comprehensive and systematic assessment system that effectively demonstrates student mastery of the content/subject" the following is in progress:

  • Formative assessment tasks have been created for Geometry, Algebra 1, Algebra 2, English 1-4, Biology, Chemistry, Anatomy & Physiology, Astronomy, Entomology, Marine Biology, Government, Economics, United States History, and World History.  Formative tasks address the systematic approach to learning, and sit within a comprehensive (scope and sequence) system for learning that spans 6-12.  Formative tasks are deployed, and data collection is in place to determine the extent to which the tasks alllow for "mastery" of the content, as defined by Advance Education.

For Improvement Priority Number 2, "Provide, document and implement a systematic program to train professional and support personnel in the evaluation, interpretation, and use of data", the following is in progress:

  • Orion gathered the expertise of our mentors, advisers, and other internal customers and stakeholders, during March of 2016 at a Learner Engagement Conference.  The conference was a first for Orion, and the professional learning keyed in on the goals of:  Engagement through authentic collaboration (how do we know the learner's work is his, and how do we engage him or her in the presentation and feedback about the collaboration?); Engagement of learners understanding through the utilization of Formative Tasks (how do we deconstruct tasks to get a better understanding of the learner's understanding of the assessed content, and the depth of understanding?); How do we engage adults in both learning and in becoming an integral part of the online learning community?
  • How we inform the practice of teacher education?  We were joined by Dr. Jodie Flint from Texas State University.  Her purpose was to better understand how we utilize tasks for learner's understanding; how we engage learners in different collaborative modalities (online), and what is the feedback mechanism? Finally, how can digital learning have an affective and effective influence on current traditional models of teacher education?
  • Data are currently being gathered with regard to content specific tasks and the deployment of such.




Dashboard Charts 2 and 3: Performance Indicator 2:  Results of Assessments (ACT Assessment Comparison) and College Enrollment and Retention

Definition:  Orion will measure ourselves against others in three key areas (the fourth is under development):

  • Comparison of droput rates
  • College going and retention
  • ACT/SAT Assessments
  • Internal Assessments End of Course and Credit by Examination

Data Collection:  College Board data are collected quarterly for CEEB Code 444731.  College going and retention rates are calculated based on acceptance into college, and retention is collected at the end of year 1 of college.  End of Course Assessment data is collected for those learners opting to take and/or required to take those assessments.


In addition to College Board data, Orion calls college learners to speak with them about their first year, and calculates the retention rate based on that.


Improvements over time:  There were insufficient numbers of test takers (ACT and SAT) in the formative years of the school; however, since 2010, there are sufficient numbers of test takers to enable Orion to collect that data.  Standards based assessments were developed in the core areas, to assess learners, as well as to assess all internally developed proprietary course.  The following areas have been identified as areas for continuous improvement for Performance Indicator 2:

  1. Add at minimum, two courses per quarter to the course catalogue. (remains from previous years)
  2. Revise assessments to include the redesigned Formative Tasks for each of the core content areas and each of the identified electives.
  3. Create and deploy the Resource Center for each mathematics course (Module 0)
  4. Re-align all mathematics tasks, assignments to Standards for Mathematical Practice, as identified by NCTM and other Research.
  5. Revise elective courses to include career readiness components.
  6. Receive approval for 4 additional AP courses.
  7. Revise Biology, Physics, and Chemistry to the Next Generation Science Standards

ACT Data:

Dropout and Retention (College) Data:

 Pioneering the LMS and Content Development

During the summer of 2006, Orion's founders created a set of courses utilizing the latest technologies available at the time.  The latest technologies helped us create and package courses for uploading into the Learning Management System (LMS).  Historically, Orion has created our own LMS with the assistance of some very talented programmers across the world.  In the 'early days', we utilized a very simple delivery system, which housed our own forum, as well as messaging and instant messaging areas.  We began loading SCORM compliant content into the LMS late in 2007, and have been on a development and revision schedule every since.  The following table depicts our work:


  2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Content 16 Core Courses plus 4 electives 6 electives 4 AP Courses Created a revision schedule for Core Courses Revisions round 1 Revisions round 2 Revisions round 3 and looked at drafts of CCSS Realigned and adopted iNacol Standards for development.  Started revision schedule Continued realigned and alignment to iNacol, and ADA

Completed iNacol and ADA.  Added 6 AP Courses and received approval.

Developed formative tasks for core areas.

LMS Proprietary, and utilized Adobe Connect for live meetings

Continued with Adobe Connect and added BB Forum and Homework Center.  Added Orion Library and Collaboration Center

Added digital content to the Collaboration Center Workded with Docebo (Italian group) to modify their Open Source to fit our needs.  Integrated DimDim for live collaboration and added video streaming to all courses Updated LMS to add a Mentoring and Collaboration Center Updated LMS to create a navigation for Middle School Updated courses and Orientation Center Completed round one of Orion Credit by Examination (CBE) Updated to ADA standards, and to HTML5 requirements.  Updated for mobile access. Added a reporting component for attendance.

 Through the years, we have added the following to our our community, and have then retro-fitted our LMS:

  • Social Community - Our social community is a vibrant community where learners and mentors can get to know one another in a safe environment.  Only registered learners and mentors and parents have access to the community.  To date, the community residents have created groups for supportive causes; have created tutoring centers; and have otherwise gotten to know each other in the digital environment (outside of the classroom).
  • Mentor Center - We have integrated a Mentor Center into our main area.  The purpose of the Mentor Center is twofold:  1. A place for information that is pertinent only to mentors; and 2.  a place where Mentors can learn about ours and their services in short time spans.
  • We have integrated SMS into all course rooms; have integrated SMS as one of our communication features;
  • We publish a weekly newsletter titled, "The Weekly Warrior", which is accessible by all, as well as a number of other newsletters.
  • Added video calling for immediate communication with mentors and advisers.
  • Scheduled chats for learner assistance.
  • Implemented required graduation planning and exit procedures and updated the Social Area calendar to require RSVP.

 Customer and Stakeholder Communication Processes

Communicating to customers and stakeholders requires an ongoing commitment to ensuring that the our organization's culture, purpose, vision, and mission, are shared among the groups.  To that end, we publish and distribute through the following means:



Receiving Group Weekly Warrior Newsletter Advising Notes Mentoring Notes Parent Newsletter Facebook Twitter YouTulbe Learn. Create. Succeed. SMS Updates
Parents X     X X X   X X
Learners X X     X X X X X
Mentors X   X   X X X X X
Partners X             X  
Staff/Other         X X X X X

The effectiveness of our communication depends on two factors:  Subcribers who self select a subscription, and whether or not the subscriber is reading and accessing the information once the information is sent.  The data below indicates the number of subscribers to each device, as of 2014 end:

Improvements over time:  Communication and interaction survey were initiated in 2012, and were revised in 2014m and again in 2015,  to understand the means by which learners, mentors, parents, and staff frequently utilize social media as well as other media.  Detailed data are collected utilizing our internal data system (mailing data), to determine whether or not messages were read, links were clicked, as well as other data.  To that end, we have identified the following improvement areas for our communication plan:

  1. Increase Weekly Warrior subscriptions to enable all current learners and staff to receive and respond.
  2. Increase to 100% the number of mentors who read and respond to Mentor Updates. (currently that number is 90%)
  3. Added the ability to respond to SMS, not just receive (2014)
  4. Identified the persons responsible for daily updates on Facebook and Twitter to increase awareness, as well as system messaging.
  5. Improve and require RSVP for planning meetings


Planning Ahead

Contingency planning is an integral part of ensuring that Orion runs smoothly if in fact there is a break in service or if data are compromised.  The first plan here, is a contingency plan in the event that servers and/or data are compromised:

"Provide, document and implement a systematic program to train professional and support personnel in the evaluation, interpretation, and use of data.  Although we cannot anticipate crises, we can have a plan in place in the event crisis occurs.  The chart, above, represents our crisis management in the event of data or file loss.  We do that through redundancy.  The table below, represents information regarding other types of crises that may occur:


Death of a Learner Death of a Mentor Teacher Loss of a family member Mentor Leaves/Resigns Localized Event-Crises at Home Data Recovery and Retention

In the event of this occurring, we:

  1. Provide social/emotional counseling either through Orion, or we contact a local provider
  2. We notify learners through phone calls and through messaging, allowing them to call in for information.
  3. We honor the learner by providing an honorary diploma to the family.

In the event of this ocurring, we:

  1. Notify learners in the courses affected;
  2. We provide social/emotional counseling either through Orion, or we contact a local service provider (at our cost).

In the event this occurs, we:

  1. Provide a leave of absence for the learner, until he or she canreturn.
  2. Offer counseling either locally or through Orion.

In the event his occurs, we:

  1. Notify the learners in the courses affected.
  2. Provide a time when learners can call in and ask questions.
In the event something that is not metioned here occurs, we provide any of the same services that we provide through the others specified crises.

In the event we have a loss of:

  • Transcript data - transcripts are stored in two additional locations n the even of data loss.  Redundancy is initiated through daily back-up.
  • Server loss - data from the server, including content, learner work, messaging, are backed up daily, and are stored indefinitely.  In the event the server and data are compromised, a back-up server, using the daily backup, is initiated.
  • Hacking/data breach - in the event of a data breach, the server will be shutdown, and learners will be notified via social media.  The server will be scrubbed and monitored for 24 hours before re-opening of services.
  • Proprietary content (courses) are stored as raw files (non formatted - SCORM), at headquarters and offline.








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