Teams of 3-4 BETAs work in Math and Literacy classrooms alongside teachers for one full year, dramatically reducing the instructor-to-student ratios from 1:30 to 1:7 on average. Unlike a typical classroom where a single teacher delivers instruction to an entire class of students, Blue Engine’s model breaks students into small groups led by BETAs for a portion of each class period. In these small groups, BETAs customize instruction to the specific needs of students and give students quick, personalized feedback on their work. The small group structure allows the teacher and BETAs to address the wide variation in student achievement, academic needs, and learning styles within a single classroom. Intimate settings, greater levels of individual attention, and strong relationships with BETAs enable students to feel comfortable as they engage with rigorous course materials and push the boundaries of their academic potential. BETA teams work with entire grade levels (currently 9th and 10th), providing personalized instruction to all students–not just high achievers, low performers, or students who opt into the program. Over the course of a year, Blue Engine’s small group instructional model dramatically accelerates the pace of learning and increases college readiness for students of all academic levels.
BETAs and teachers deliver assessments and collect data about students to monitor learning, track progress, and inform instruction. State- and nationally-recognized assessments administered quarterly enable teachers and BETAs to track student progress towards college-ready skills throughout the year. Working with small groups of students, BETAs can focus extensively on each student and have the capacity to collect quantitative and qualitative data about student progress regularly. This individualized attention enables more personalized, data-informed instruction: BETAs can quickly detect cognitive caps and breakdowns in the learning process of a particular student and, in turn, tailor instruction to address the specific issues that inhibit that student’s academic mastery.
With the aim of boosting academic achievement in partner classrooms, Blue Engine has developed a social cognitive curriculum focused on helping students build the noncognitive skills they need to be academically successful. The curriculum represents cutting-edge research in social, educational psychology and is grounded in teacher and BETA feedback emphasizing student motivation as one of the top issues most closely tied to academic success. The curriculum was designed to fundamentally change students’ attitudes and mindsets with three core areas of focus: fostering a growth mindset, effective goal-setting, and developing learning strategies. Pairs of teachers and BETAs co-teach 14, 50-minute lessons throughout the entire school year, and the concepts taught during lessons are reinforced by BETAs and lead teachers during academic classes. Ultimately, Blue Engine encourages students to become self-regulated learners who take ownership of their own education, through high school and beyond.
BETAs provide additional instruction and support during off periods and after school hours (3-6 p.m.), interventions that increase instructional time without increasing costs. Through a partnership with The After-School Corporation (TASC), BETAs lead after-school programming each day, engaging with students in a variety of extracurricular contexts that range from academic tutoring and test preparation to coaching sports teams and directing school musicals.