When do you learn best? For most individuals, it is when the materials seem pertinent or important to your life. Grant High School in Sacramento, California decided that this approach might grab the attention of students interested in athletics and help them connect with the relevance of their education.
How? “Calculating baseball statistics serves as a math lesson. Researching the goddess Nike is a lesson in Greek mythology. World history scours the globe to point out the origins of different sports.” 1 In this way, the student is engaged and the academic courses required by the University of California and California State University are met. In the process, the student learns medical, marketing, and entrepreneurial skills that will carry them far beyond high school.
Most importantly, Reginald Harris, the lead teacher for the Sports Health Academy, indicated that 85 percent of students in the academy were considered at-risk students and many have seen complete turnarounds in their GPAs and attendance records.
Is this just a fluke? It appears not. The program is part of California’s Partnership Academies and a recent study compared the results of students in academies to the larger population. The analysis of typical measures, such as pass rates on English language art and mathematics exams as well as graduation rates, indicated that academy students outperform statewide averages.2
The Grant program’s goal is to tap into the student’s passion – a successful athletic program – and to connect it to their education. And viola – education is relevant.