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University of Memphis President M. David Rudd proposes an on-campus high school

University of Memphis President M. David Rudd Wednesday announced a proposal for the addition of an on-campus high school program.

The school would be named University High School and, although still in its planning phase, the school may be located in the Fogelman Executive Building.

"They would be separated, but there's a way to do that. Structurally, there's enough space," Rudd said. "There's room for growth, so there is also enough room for the high school."

Rudd made the impromptu announcement after a tour of the building, where the University Middle School is now located. He was accompanied by Shelby County Schools Superintendent Joris Ray to view the new facility.

Both Campus School — the kindergarten through fifth-grade branch — and University Middle are laboratory schools, where research is conducted to find the most effective educational techniques. University High School will also be a laboratory school and teachers will use a model known as project-based learning, sometimes referred to as inquiry-based learning.

University Middle School teachers also follow a project-based learning model. The method focuses on a hands-on learning experience for students as well as engaging them in real-life scenarios, allowing them to apply their learning outside of the classroom. The goal is for students to develop a deeper knowledge of the curriculum as well as increase retention of that curriculum. 

In a study conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, students taught under the project-based learning model scored 63 percent higher in social studies and 23 percent higher in informational reading than traditionally taught students.

The planning period for University High School is ongoing and will continue over the next year, although it is yet to receive board approval from Shelby County Schools. Development is being funded by a $100,000 grant received from NewSchools Venture Funds June 2020.

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