District, university partner on middle school specializing in project-based learning

educationdive | March 08, 2019

The Shelby County Board of Education in Tennessee approved a five-year contract with the University of Memphis for operation of the University Middle School, a new school scheduled to open this fall that will serve 270 students in grades 6-8 by 2021. University Middle will be a teaching lab for project-based learning for the university, Chalkbeat reports, and an elementary school operated by the university will act as a primary feeder for the school. Under the contract agreement, the University of Memphis is responsible for construction and maintenance costs, staffing and salaries, and student transportation. The school district will provide cafeteria and special education services including nurses and speech and physical therapists.Contract schools, such as this one, have more say in how they choose students than charter schools do, and the university said one-third of University Middle's students would be children of faculty and staff. However, the school board was concerned about the school's potential racial makeup, so the university dropped the academic requirement for attendance, with students now eligible for admission based on behavior and attendance records — though a lottery may be needed to determine final invitations.

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