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An Innovative Charter School, Blended Learning, and a Community Celebrates

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mayor

"Successful Beyond Anybody's Dreams"

University of Maryland President Wallace Loh was asked recently about an innovative school in College Park, Maryland where some of the university's education students are involved in their own learning classes:

"It's a great opportunity for our students who want to work with kids or go into education, and I think the whole unversity learns from the blended education model," Loh said. "I think it's successful beyond anybody's dreams."

(His comments appeared in The Diamondback, the University of Maryland's independent school newspaper.)

President Loh serves on the board of directors of College Park Academy, a public charter school in Maryland's Prince George's County. The school uses blended learning to prepare its students for college and beyond.

Higher Than Average Test Scores

The Diamondback also reports this claim from College Park Academy's principal Bernadette Ortiz-Brewster:

During the 2014-15 academic year, the eighth grade students enrolled at the academy scored a higher average on the eighth grade science Maryland School Assessment than the county, state, and surrounding districts.

From the Twitter feed of @CPAPrincipal with the caption: "HOW DOES RIVER EROSION WORK, the thrilling new science non-fiction coming soon to a 7th grade classroom near you!"
From the Twitter feed of @CPAPrincipal with the caption: "HOW DOES RIVER EROSION WORK, the thrilling new science non-fiction coming soon to a 7th grade classroom near you!"

More Options for Teachers

Joshua Young teaches language arts at College Park Academy and chairs the department. He says the blended learning approach gives him the flexibility to be a better teacher—and improve student outcomes.

"With the technology and the online curriculum that our kids have," he says, "it's wonderful that they are able to work outside of the classroom and at their own pace."

"Students are doing rote memorization, taking notes, or reading outside of the classroom," Joshua says, "and then when they come into the classroom, they're doing more extended projects or discussions."

Online Curriculum

The school uses Pearson's Connections Learning curriculum.

Herbert Williams who teaches science, says the curriculum gives teachers time to create deeper, more innovative lessons.

"Everything is on the computer, including lessons, quick checks, and unit tests," he says. "With more teaching prep time, I can review lessons and develop an activity to reinforce them."

A Community Partnership

College Park Academy is created through an alliance between the City of College Park, the University of Maryland, and Prince George's  County Public Schools.

College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn told The Diamondback:

"This school is a great opportunity for the families and their kids living in the area," he said. "One of our greatest challenges in College Park is making sure that people of the city have access to quality education for their kids."

A Growing Waiting List

The mayor's claims ring true.

College Park Academy had a waitlist of 500 students for the 2014-2015 academic year.

This past fall, that waitlist had grown to 1,200.