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Students Focus on Three Credits

Enabling opportunities for deeper and faster learning by limiting the amount of classes a student can take at the same time

Overview

Bronx Arena designed its coursework so that students work on completing three credits throughout the school day (compared to traditional schools that typically focus on six to eight). As a transfer school, students often arrive with existing skill gaps. Teachers and Advocate Counselors work closely with students to identify these gaps and create a customized learning pathway so that students can close them. While this strategy is somewhat common among schools implementing high-quality blended learning practices, Bronx Arena’s three-credit system takes it a step further.

With a small number of credits for students to focus on, students can spend significantly more time filling existing learning gaps. Most educational models offer students six to eight credits at a time, meaning they often have only one hour to focus on a skill before moving on. Additionally, when students have made progress on a skill, the curriculum may dictate that they move onto something new. By focusing on a small number of credits at a time, students at Bronx Arena can spend up to four hours each day on specific skills and can organize their coursework so they are continually exposed to and practicing these skills. Teachers are able to continually review student progress using data, and modify supports, ensuring students have what they need to address challenge areas. This has created an “accelerating effect,” where students struggle to fill content knowledge gaps at first but continue to build on their existing knowledge and catch up or excel in specific areas.

Throughout their time at Bronx Arena, students work on three separate credits:

  • Focus Credit - This is the primary credit that students focus on during their four-hour Arena blocks. It often aligns with the highest need area for each student, which is determined with input from teachers and Advocate Counselors. This credit could be chosen to fill knowledge gaps, achieve an “easy win” by completing a credit highly aligned with student strengths, or select more challenging coursework after the basics have been completed. Students generally spend most of their time in their Arena on this credit.
  • Secondary Credit - This is viewed as a “backup” credit for students during their time in Arenas. Spending four hours on a single skill or subject can be challenging for a variety of reasons, as particular skills and subjects could be deemed monotonous, boring, or too challenging. The secondary credits provides students with something else to work on when they are not working on their focus credit. After a student finishes their focus credit, secondary credits will often become new focus credits, and students will select a new secondary credit. Some students choose to keep particular credits secondary, particularly if it is something that is difficult for them to work through, or they’d prefer to progress faster through their focus credits.
  • Learning Lab - Learning Lab is a 90 minute block in the morning that generally involves more asynchronous student learning. Students earn a credit when they complete a Learning Lab.

Students are able to work at their own pace for all three credits. When they complete a focus credit, they may either choose to re-prioritize a secondary credit as the focus credit, or select a new focus credit. After finishing a secondary credit, students will select a new one to work on, no matter where they are in their focus credit or Learning Lab progress. Regardless of what they select, students still spend four hours in their Arenas each day working on these two credits. After completing a Learning Lab, students will select a new credit and move to a new classroom to earn their new credit.