According to Georgia’s ESSA plan, educating beyond the core measures how many students in a district are passing courses in subjects other than reading and math--namely, areas such as fine arts, world languages, physical education/health and career exploratory classes. The emphasis on the whole child is meant to encourage school districts to go beyond tightly focusing on test scores as a measure of success. The continuous improvement model is meant to nudge districts (even those with high tests scores) to constantly innovate and improve. Dooley hopes that these written concepts in conjunction with workshops, and other professional development activities will help steer continuous innovation in the state education system.
“We are all learners together we are trying to innovate and collaborate as we support learners,” Dooley explained to the group. “We are of the mindset that all schools need to improve, not because schools are horrible but because society is changing.”
At Paulding County High School in Dallas, Georgia, science classes are messy and alive. Each corner is full of something growing, stored or experimented on. Greenhouse lights keep vegetables growing in one corner while fruit flies for genetic experimentation squirm in another. Tables are covered with high-tech laboratory equipment such as atomic absorption spectrometers, autoclaves, and laboratory water baths.
What makes the place truly unique, however, is the way Marc Pedersen and his wife Tricia Pedersen have set up their classes to offer students a differentiated, high-tech, personalized learning experience—all without relying heavily on screen time.