The APS High School Transformation Initiative will create smaller, 21st century learning centers where students receive a world-class education and graduate with more effective options for lifelong success – whether they choose to attend college or enter the work force. Research shows that high school students learn better in smaller, more personalized settings, so APS schools that once bustled with 2,500 students will become learning environments focused on the success of 400 students.

    Four key goals go to the heart of this new initiative: reach a graduation rate of 90 percent within four years; ensure that APS graduates are ready for college and post-secondary opportunities; make APS the first choice among students and parents in Atlanta; and provide kids with a world-class education.To reach those goals, APS high schools are being reconfigured into two models: small schools and small learning communities. In the small-schools model, one principal will be in charge of each autonomous school on the campus. With small learning communities, one principal runs the school, which is comprised of smaller academies.

    The New Schools at Carver, which opened in August 2005, was the district’s first bold step toward transforming high schools, both structurally and academically. Carver now features four separate schools that focus on specific disciplines: Early College, School of the Arts, School of Health, Sciences & Research, and School of Technology. Students, faculty and staff immediately noticed improvements under the new model. After struggling all the way through junior high, Jobias McLester flourished in the new system at Carver. The senior in the School of Health Sciences and Research ranks ninth in his graduating class and takes advanced-placement courses while successfully juggling multiple extra-curricular activities. “For me to come from where I did … it touched me in so many ways,” McLester said. “I wouldn’t have imagined it in my lifetime.”

    The Transformation Initiative is being implemented over a five-year period. Following a planning period in 2006, South Atlanta and Daniel M. Therrell opened in 2007 as small schools. Maynard H. Jackson opened in 2008 as the system’s first small learning community with academies that offer study in Fine Arts & Media Communications, Information Technology; and Engineering and Early College.Washington opened in 2009 as small schools. In addition, Douglass opened in 2009 as a small learning community. Grady, Mays and North Atlanta will be transformed in 2010 as part of the third and final phase.