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The Smaller Learning Communities (SLC) Grant is a grant from the U.S. Department of Education to restructure five high schools into smaller units, called career clusters. The goals of the project are to enhance academic achievement, increase academic rigor, and create a better school climate. The five schools implementing smaller learning communities are: Arundel, Glen Burnie, Meade, North County, and Old Mill Senior High Schools. Students identify their interests with the help of their Guidance Counselors and Teacher Advisors. Once in the clusters, students will all learn the same core subject material, but they will have a chance to relate the course material to examples from career areas in which they are interested. So, for example, students in the Arts, Communication and Humanities cluster might take on the real-life problem of how theatre tickets are discounted in their math classes, while students in the Health, Environmental and Life Sciences cluster might have an example about discounts for large group health insurers in their math classes. The object is not to change the curriculum, or what is taught, but to change the instruction, or how it is taught. The Smaller Learning Community concept comes out of research that demonstrates that students learn better and retain more when they learn things in context, when they know why they are learning. Some schools that have already implemented smaller schools-within-schools have shown the same kinds of results we want to see in our own schools, that is, higher assessment scores across the board and safer environments for our students. 

A new aspect of this program, added in the fall of 2005, is participation in a national research study to help the Department of Education evaluate programs that improve the reading skills of 9th grade students who read below grade level.  The study is called Enhanced Reading Opportunities (ERO): Evaluating the impact of Adolescent Literacy Programs in Freshman Academies.  It will last for two years.

For further information about the Enhanced Reading Opportunities study, please see:

Enhanced Reading Opportunities: Evaluating the Impact of Adolescent Literacy Programs in Freshman Academies

Human Services
Health/Life Sciences
Engineering/Mechanical
Business, Management, Finance
Art, Communications

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