Creation of Ambitious Academy a career-focused high school in downtown Atlanta.
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African American and Hispanic students in the Metro Atlanta area continue to graduate high school at the staggering rate of 69% and 45% of students who continue on to college have to enroll in remedial courses. Also, these students have not been able to gain exposure to high paying career opportunities while in high school to ensure they have the necessary skills to join the workforce. Low performing Metro Atlanta high schools are struggling to implement new program opportunities while servicing the existing large population of students. These schools also lack fully integrated wrap around support services that address the non-academic needs of students which also contributes to poor student performance.
While there have been a number of new k-8 charter schools focused on providing strong foundational support for students, there are still over 20,000 students in Atlanta Public Schools, Clayton County Schools and DeKalb County Schools that are attending an underperforming high school. Within 2 - 4 years these students will be matriculating to higher education and the workforce. Historical data has proven that students with similar backgrounds have required additional educational and social support services. To avoid this fate, it is critical that these students receive a strong academic and support experience while still in high school which requires transforming the high school experience.
A New High School
After engaging over 1,500 state officials, educators, parents, students, business and community leaders, stakeholders identified the following three needs of students in Metro Atlanta including personalized instruction, individualized support services, and connection to real-world application. Ambitious Initiatives is excited to announce the development of Ambitious Academy, a new 9-12 charter high school. This high school experience is built around individual student needs offering personalized curriculums, career exploration, and individualized support services.
Ambitious Academy would be the only state charter school initially servicing students in the Metro Atlanta area with a direct focus on students residing in Atlanta Public Schools, Clayton County Schools, and DeKalb County Schools.
Our program starts by creating a learner profile on each student which includes past student performance, career path identification, personality and learning traits, socioeconomic status, mental and physical health status, and familial relationship status. By having learner profiles, our teachers and support coaches can adequately support students by having a clear picture of only of academic standing but of every area that impacts student growth and offers support as needed.
Personalized & Competency-Based Learning
While systematically the target population of students should be on the same educational level, we anticipate that these students will reflect a spectrum of levels which is why we are utilizing a personalized and competency-based learning model. Instead of all being taught the exact same thing at the same time, students will have the opportunity to work at their own pace to demonstrate mastery of academic content, regardless of time, place, or pace of learning. This model allows for teachers and support staff to zero in on which students need the most coaching and support. Students who master content can move on when ready and students who need additional support can break out to work with staff individually and in small groups.
Career Exploration and Lifeskills Development
Instead of offering traditional career pathways, our team of pathway coordinators will work with groups of students to identify potential career opportunities, projects related to exploring careers and gain critical knowledge of life skills including finance, communication, and more. This will include out of school activities such as job shadowing, work-based learning, college and career tours.
First-year students will focus on building a strong academic foundation and gain exposure through career tours and learn critical life skills. Second-year students will participate in more focused job shadowing opportunities leading to potential work-based learning while exploring the move on when ready program. Third-year students will participate in targeted work-based learning opportunities and more about college and secondary educational options. Fourth-year students will continue to participate in work-based learning and be coached through post-high school transition. Each student would have broad exposure to a multitude of post high school options with 25 - 30 expeditions throughout the school term.
Individualized Support Services
Every student has unique needs to ensure they have a successful learning experience. We plan to offer each student 1:1 wellbeing support to access every aspect of the student's journey including home life, overall academic progress, life skills development, mental and physical health. Coordinators meet with each student once per week to review student progress via their learner profiles and also work with teachers, parents and additional partners to identify areas of need and intervene with support. Ex. 4 coordinators/counselors with 15 students per day
We are currently petitioning the state for approval to open the new charter high school. This will be a public high school with the goal of serving 300 9th and 10th grade students in its first year while subsequently adding 100 students per year. The student to teacher ratio would be 1:20 and support coordinator 1:15. The goal is to open the high school for the fall 2018 school term and we have identified two potential locations in Downtown Atlanta. We will also be working to raise startup funding to support the planning process and confirm partners for the expedition program.
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