Dr. Scott Muri
Providing a personalized learning environment for each of the 96,000 students in Fulton County Schools seems nearly impossible; however, Dr. Muri is making it a reality. With a graduation rate of 70 percent and a lack of college- and career-readiness, Muri saw a need to make changes within the district. “While we were successful with many of our students, we weren’t successful with all of our students,” says Muri. “I knew the only way we could reach all students was by personalizing the learning experience.” With the goal of providing personalized and competency-based education for each student, the district began investing in infrastructure needs to make this shift.
Muri and his team began updating and preparing the district’s infrastructure two years ago to handle both technological and staff changes to support the personalized learning environment. “We put lots of professional development opportunities in front of the teachers, really personalizing the professional development,” Muri says. “Teachers have virtual, job-embedded, large group, conference-style and coaching professional development opportunities.” The district also spent a significant amount of time updating each school’s technological infrastructure. “We have 100 schools at Fulton and each of those schools are wireless. We have a wireless environment that supports two devices for each of our users and 10 megabits of information can be sent to each of those two devices,” he says.
The district currently supports a “bring your own technology” (BYOT) environment, but will be implementing a 1:1 initiative in high schools and middle schools soon. Mobile devices and laptops help support the personalized learning environment Muri envisions. Digital curriculum resources can be accessed through each student’s and teacher’s technology of choice. The district created a wealth of digital learning objects, which can be utilized by each teacher as he or she sees fit. “We feel the best decision-maker in the classroom is the teacher - we want to give the teacher a variety of different tools to use in a marketplace environment,” says Muri. “Rather than being prescriptive in telling teachers what they must use, we want to give them great tools and allow them to use what they think is best for their students.”
Though the district is only two years into its five-year plan for personalized learning, Muri is already seeing significant changes. “Our graduation rate is now at 75.5 percent, and we have seen improvements in a variety of academic areas. We’ve certainly made the right investments and we are confident that we will continue to see the right results,” Muri says. Additionally, the district has seen improvements in ACT and SAT scores, as well as career-readiness data.
Even with the positive results, Muri hopes to see greater achievements as the district continues its journey. “We’re seeing improvements in each of the three buckets we’re measuring so we’re excited about that,” he says. “However, we understand that the pace of change has to be faster so we’re working to have greater improvements as we move forward.”