Grant Supports Smaller Learning Communities

September 2, 2005
The U.S. Department of Education has awarded a grant of almost $1.5 million to Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) to support the development of smaller learning communities at James Hubert Blake and Paint Branch high schools. The grant is funded through the Smaller Learning Communities Program.

Blake and Paint Branch staffs have joined with parents and community members to restructure their schools into smaller learning communities. The restructuring is designed to enhance school climate and provide the support that students need to succeed in rigorous courses. Both schools will create ninth grade academies to ease the transition of freshmen. They also will initiate student advisory and mentoring programs.

To help struggling students catch up with their peers by the end of tenth grade, both schools will offer double-period math and English along with after-school and summer support programs in reading and math. Teachers will participate in professional development programs and will use a range of research-based strategies to deliver instruction that has proven effective for students with different learning styles.

Both schools will create career academies in which students in grades 10-12 will be enrolled in groups of related courses that prepare them for employment and/or higher education. Themes of the academies will be based upon areas in which job growth is now occurring and expected to continue. Career academy students also will have opportunities to meet professionals in their chosen career fields and to experience work opportunities before graduating.

The smaller learning communities at Blake and Paint Branch are expected to improve outcomes for all students, but particularly African American, Hispanic, low income, and special needs students.

The grant will be implemented over a five-year period. MCPS will hire an outside evaluator for assessment of all components of the programs at the two schools.

<<Back to browse