Board Chair Randy Weiner said the board learned about “Project Engage” this weekend during the group’s two-day retreat in Stone Mountain.
The program would involve about 50 upcoming seventh graders at Marietta Middle who would be picked based on their learning styles and academic history, Weiner said.
“It won’t be for all students, and it won’t be just for super high or super low performing students,” he said.
The students will be in two classrooms taught by dual-certified teachers, one in science and math and the second in English and social studies. They would stay with these two teachers through eighth grade.
Associate Superintendent Dayton Hibbs said his staff learned about this approach at a conference.
“This was a blended learning model that could be very applicable to our middle grades,” he said.
The program is not set in stone, though.
Hibbs said it could evolve between now and when the board considers approval of it in coming months, but if approved, they will move forward with creating the structure and identifying potential students who would benefit from it and hire the appropriate teachers.
“This is definitely in the conceptual stages,” he said. “We want to plant a seed with our board about potential ideas.”
If approved as is, students would have individualized learning stations, participate in computer-assisted instruction, work at their own paces and still be able to work on International Baccalaureate projects. Weiner said the program is modeled after Arizona’s Carpe Diem Schools, which have a history of success.
“They say it could better prepare them for high school,” he said.
He said the program should be cost neutral, and the district will look at the individual student growth to measure success. If the program proved successful with the 50 students, the board would have the option of opening up Project Engage to more incoming seventh graders the following year.
Vice Chair Tom Cheater said he is intrigued and excited about the potential project, but he does have questions.
“My initial concerns are around careful development of the proposed pilot and a continuity plan that ensures we have an expansion, or re-integration plan, contingent on the success of the program,” he said.