Teacher: APS online classes are "exploiting" struggling students

This is what Sharell Latimore fears: That she’ll graduate from Atlanta’s Crim High School, enroll in college and find out she’s “the dumbest one there.”

Crim is one of two Atlanta high schools that switched over the past two years from classes taught by teachers to “blended learning,” where students sit in classrooms clicking through online lessons as teachers supervise.

Advocates say this lets students learn at their own pace and get help from a teacher when they need it. Atlanta’s West End Academy, another alternative school, has successfully used blended learning for more than a decade, school staff say.

But the results from Atlanta’s latest and largest move to teach students who have struggled in traditional classrooms through online instruction have been decidedly mixed.

Both Crim and the other blended-learning school — Forrest Hill Academy — are alternative schools. Crim serves students who haven’t succeeded in their home schools. Forrest Hill serves students referred for discipline problems.

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The switch means “we’re basically just teaching ourselves,” Latimore said. “We’re teaching ourselves something we don’t know.”

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