This past Fall we started our first 12th grade cohort. These were the students we started with, our "guinea pigs", as well as others added along the way. These kids were groundbreakers again, as they are every year. In 2013 our big experiment was creating an uber-efficient combination of Language Arts + Economics + Political Science + Internship.
The "uber-combo" was pretty intense. Normally, 12th graders are given one full semester of Political Systems, one full semester of Economics, one full year of Language Arts, and one full year of an Internship. The experiment was to create a schedule that completed the Language Arts, Poli Sy and Econ in one semester, and just one hour a day. That's 25% of the allocated time. Why? How?
WHY is that we saw many inefficiencies in the separate subjects, that the academic standards overlapped too much to ignore. In addition, Economics and Politics are very relevant to job internships that the kids were involved in, it was a meaningful discussion focus. HOW is that Brittany and Brooks, our instructors, met for hours and hours, and developed a system where Brittany focused her Language Arts on readings that were relevant to Brook's Social Studies topics. Students were encouraged to think about the topics as they related to their internship industries (gaming, movie production, and more).
Well, the semester is over, and how did they do? First, they all passed the classes, no problem there. But Economics is a state test, the "End of Course Test" (EOCT), and how would they fare on that? Funny you should ask. The most recent public data on the Economics EOCT was a 76% State rate, 79% County rate and a 69% Lanier High rate for the combined Pass or Exceeds in Spring 2012. I'm sure there are more recent, and probably better numbers, but those are the County-listed (link is here). How did we do? 100% pass, and 78% EXCEEDS! Yes, in 25% of the normal time allotted!! When teachers plan more efficiently, collaboratively, and students have a more relevant context for learning, BOOM!!
While I can get the data together, let's be clear, this is NOT a class of Gifted kids. We have 2. It's racially diverse, we have our share of Free/Reduced lunch students, a good gender balance, challenges like ADHD, etc. The point is, they self-selected this method, no admission and no filter. Sure, there are some unusual advantages like having only 22 kids, but I truly believe this goes back to our core subject teachers working with each other, making the classes relevant and efficient.
What an exciting way to end the year, what a high note. I'll be sharing more about our CDAT12 kids, and our other kids, to start the 2014 year off right. We have a lot in store for next year, and it starts right away!
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