Atlanta Public Schools to Prepare All Students for College and Work

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Atlanta Public Schools (APS) announced plans to ensure all students receive a high-quality education that prepares them for the challenges of today’s global economy. They will transform all of its large, traditional high schools into small schools or small learning communities over the next five years. They plan to create a culture of high expectations and high achievement for all students.

“We are headed in the right direction, particularly with the strong support of our community and a firm belief that every student in every school can reach their full potential in learning environments that challenge and support them,” said APS Superintendent Dr. Beverly L. Hall.

The first two schools to initiate their chznges will open in the fall of 2007. Each will consist of four small theme-based schools that emphasize a personalized and academically rigorous learning environment.

The school district’s newly created Office of High School Redesign will work in close partnership with the Institute for Student Achievement (ISA) to implement changes at two high schools. ISA is a national leader that assists school districts in changing large underperforming high schools into academically rigorous and personalized small learning communities that improve academic performance, raise graduation rates and cultivate a college-going culture.

The district’s vision is that by the end of the 2007-08 school year, Atlanta Public Schools will be one of the nation’s highest performing urban school district with 100 percent of schools meeting or exceeding 70 percent of their annual growth targets.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation invested $10.5 million in this APS initiative. To date, the foundation has invested more than $1.7 billion to improve high schools, supporting more than 1,800 schools in 47 states and the District of Columbia.

Q: I haven’t read the proposal. What places do mobile PCs have in changes planned for teaching and learning at APS?

Kudos, APS. Congratulations APS students for serving as experimental subjects in this grand social experiment calling for school system wide changes. I wonder if parents of all students have signed off for their children to participate as human subjects in this experiment?

Thanks, Gates Foundation, for helping to underwrite this APS initiative.

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Robert Heiny
Robert W. Heiny, Ph.D. is a retired professor, social scientist, and business partner with previous academic appointments as a public school classroom teacher, senior faculty, or senior research member, and administrator. Appointments included at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Peabody College and the Kennedy Center now of Vanderbilt University; and Brandeis University. Dr. Heiny also served as Director of the Montana Center on Disabilities. His peer reviewed contributions to education include publication in [I]The Encyclopedia of Education [/I](1971), and in professional journals and conferences. He served s an expert reviewer of proposals to USOE, and on a team that wrote plans for 12 state-wide and multistate special education and preschools programs. He currently writes user guides for educators and learners as well as columns for [I]TuxReports[/I].com.

1 COMMENT

  1. Good piece. I ran into this relevant article to the topic at hand and I thought I’ll share.Connecting the Dots: Kids to Businessby Jennifer Bouani http://boujepublishing.wordpress.com/I’m all for schools and businesses working together to connect the dots for students to know how to compete in a global workforce. We do need to work to better meld the two entities. In the Atlanta Business Chronicle, Tim Hough writes about an initiative going on between Atlanta Public Schools and Atlanta businesses (Atlanta Business Chronicle, Jun 1-7) to do just such a thing. Beverly Hall, the superintendent, is working to fully reform the public school system to connect the dots in the disciplines of engineering, health sciences and research. But I think the focus may be misguided. China and India are generating baskets-full of engineers and researchers. On sheer numbers, America cannot compete. But what has America always been good at (besides war)? Creating businesses!–tapping into our entrepreneurial spirit and paving new roads, new industries and new technologies. Who would have imagined Google or Amazon 15 years ago? But are we forgetting where we came from? The Kauffman Foundation just reported that immigrant entrepreneurial activities are outpacing those of native-born Americans. While it increased for Asians and Latinos, it stayed steady for non-Latino whites and even fell for blacks. Where are our entrepreneurs? Who will create the next Microsoft?Although I admire Hall for her courage to tread new ground, I wish school systems would focus their attention on teaching kids how to RUN businesses, not be employed by them. * Kauffman Foundation Study: http://www.kauffman.org/items.cfm?itemID=861