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Education Matters: Schools of Innovation

MAUMELLE, Ark. - All four high schools in the Pulaski County Special School District (PCSSD) are moving towards a new concept of learning.

It's called Schools of Innovation. The goal is to let students learn at their own pace.

Some teachers learned to navigate the new program before the start of the new school year.

It's tailored to students who want to go to college, or those who want to immediately start work.

"They use an online solution called Odysseyware that has a curriculum built into it, so the students can move along to the pace they need to," explains Will Reid, PCSSD Chief Technology Officer.

Odysseyware is personalized learning that can be used on multiple devices. It's where selected students will get their lessons at their school of innovation.

By going at their own pace, students are better prepared to fully understand what they're learning.

"Students feel success quickly when they're able to master something they haven't been able to master in a large group setting," says Cristin DuBose, English Teacher.

DuBose is training to become an instructor for the School of Innovation at Maumelle High. The program will go through a test run this school year before officially launching in 2018.

"The School of Innovation I think will give us the opportunity to really diagnose kids well, where they are, where they need to be," DuBose says.

That's one of the many reasons the PCSSD is offering it.

"We feel like traditional school is not netting the results that we would like to see," adds Reid.

He says the district has noticed many students graduate and don't go on to college. It's believed the new approach will provide more opportunities.

"We want to work with corporations, companies, organizations here locally and statewide who can hire students out of high school and allow them to hit the ground running, so to speak and make better than just minimum wage," Reid continues.

He says schools of innovation would offer industry-based certifications. Some courses would be held at Pulaski Tech.

Schools of Innovation will officially launch in the 2018-2019 school year. It's voluntary and recommended to those who don't do well with the standard schedule.

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