Innovation Fund to help study of ‘blended learning’ in county schools

Published 6:10 pm Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Monday, the Decatur County School System was announced as one of 12 Georgia school systems that are recipients of Innovation Fund grant awards.

The Innovation Fund is a competitive grant program that provides more than $4.1 million to local education authorities and schools to further advance student achievement in Georgia.

“These deserving organizations and programs are dedicated to academic achievement throughout Georgia,” Gov. Nathan Deal said in the announcement. “I am confident this funding will help give schools and education groups a greater opportunity to focus on STEM development and student growth. Together, we will continue working to ensure every Georgia student is given the tools necessary for academic achievement.”

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Decatur County will receive a planning grant of $10,000 over one year to research and develop an innovative education program aligned with one of the Innovation Fund priority areas.

The system will use the grant money to research different methods of blended learning, which blends traditional classroom teaching with technology, assistant superintendent Dr. April Aldridge said.

“The grant is going to allow us to look at different aspects of blended learning and what’s best for our community and our students,” Aldridge said.

The planning grant is the lowest level of Innovation Fund grants. Aldridge said that the system applied for it because administrators wanted to take their time to really consider implementing more blended learning programs before jumping in and applying for a $700,000 implementation grant.

The programs are aligned in the following priority areas: applied learning with a focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, development and replication of blended learning school models and birth to age eight language and literacy development models.

Grantees will evaluate the effectiveness of their programs and submit their findings to the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement.

The state will use these findings to determine best practices in STEM education, applied learning, birth to age eight language and literacy development and blended learning.