Superintendent Mark Daniel on Monday sold the Fort Wayne Community Schools board on a high school program he expects will be a game-changer for the region.
The seven-member board approved an almost $3.9 million, five-year contract to bring 3DE to North Side and Snider high schools beginning next fall and expanding it to all five high schools by 2025 in partnership with Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana.
The board learned about 3DE at an hourlong work session last month. Generally, students are given a real-world business problem written by a local or national business partner every five weeks. Students work in groups to research and analyze the challenge and present their solution to the company.
Using this learning method makes lessons more relevant and engaging for students, officials said.
This hypothetical example was given during the work session: Sweetwater wants a new distribution center in Thailand, Britain or Sweden. Students would evaluate the countries' potential based on factors such as their social and political environment and distribution costs.
Daniel expects this type of learning will particularly benefit the “middle 50%” of the district's student body, not the high academic achievers.
“We need to connect with those kids,” Daniel said Monday. “We need to have something that connects them with this marketplace, where they can make a livable wage.”
The program – which has grown to more than two dozen schools in multiple states – is also attractive to FWCS because it has shown it improves chronic absenteeism, graduation rates and college persistence rates, officials said.
“Districts like ours are seeing significant improvement in key measures of student success,” Daniel said.
“Our students need and deserve the opportunity to participate in a highly engaging learning environment that will set them up for success in life.”
Andy Brooks also expects big outcomes from 3DE. He is president of Brooks Construction Company Inc. and chairman of the local Junior Achievement's board of directors.
“The 3DE instructional model will have a tremendous impact on the youth as it accelerates and deepens student engagement and academic outcomes,” Brooks said in a statement. “The program will better prepare the workforce of tomorrow and ultimately, have a great impact on the region.”
The $3.86 million contract will be paid with a combination of federal coronavirus relief funds and the district's education fund.