Three schools that are part of the Atlanta Public Schools turnaround strategy start classes Tuesday, one week before the rest of the district begins the new school year.
"I'm excited," said Dorian Swinton, an 8th-grade Language Arts teacher at Price Middle School. "It gives us more opportunity to work with the students for a longer amount of time."
Price MS, Slater Elementary and Thomasville Heights Elementary are the schools now being run as partner schools by the nonprofit Purpose-Built Schools.
The APS Turnaround plan was developed in 2014 to target the district’s lowest-performing schools.
Photos | First day of school at Slater Elementary
"We have wonderfully intelligent students who can do so well, but we haven't performed to our potential," said Luqman Abdur-Rahman, the principal at Price MS.
A longer school year and a longer school day, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., are just two of the changes at Price Middle School.
About 60 percent of the teachers are new to Price.
Hired by Purpose-Built Schools, teachers at all three schools get a signing bonus, a bump in pay and 90-minute planning periods every school day.
The curriculum at the schools is also new. It's more rigorous and flexible, allowing for quick changes without approval from the school board.
"Students will know they're going to be cared for. They're going to be challenged and engaged.," added Abdur-Rahman. "We're going to change their beliefs about what they can achieve and the test scores will come as a result of that."
The extra days and hours will add up to two-and-a-half additional years of instruction by the time Kindergarten students reach high school.