Barrow County School System: Direct To Discovery

By: | January 5, 2019
District Name: Barrow County School System: Direct To Discovery
District State: Georgia
District Website:

Barrow County School System in Georgia built its Direct To Discovery (D2D) program to create tech-savvy students who would be qualified to fill STEM jobs in its region.

The homegrown D2D is based on the hypothesis that “a substantial increase in student engagement brings an increase in student interest and performance,” says Edward Morrison, the district’s director of research and innovation.

The first step was to become the sole K12 district on Peachnet, a high-speed internet network dedicated to education and research in Georgia. This moved the district beyond the “bandwidth barrier” that can hobble instruction. Students and educators gained access to HD videoconferencing and began contacting subject experts from around the globe.

But the district considers its “breakthrough” concept to be the long-term co-teaching partnerships its middle and high school science and math teachers formed with research scientists at Georgia Tech. The teams create hands-on project for students, who get assistance from university scientists who conference into classrooms three times each semester.

Each student is provided a mobile smart tablet, and digital assignments mean classes are nearly paperless. Along with Georgia Tech, the D2D students have connected with CERN (The European Organization for Nuclear Research), the Philadelphia Philharmonic, remotely-controlled telescopes in Australia, flute teachers in Ireland, and scuba divers at the Georgia Aquarium.

Prior to D2D, students in one middle school class had a 50 percent pass rate in science and 60 percent in math on a state competency test. After participating in the program, the same class scored 100 percent meets or exceeds in both science and math.

In recognition of the innovation and success of this initiative, Barrow County School System has been named a District of Distinction by District Administration. Barrow County was among 30 districts that were honored in the July 2015 round of Districts of Distinction, the magazine’s national recognition program.

“We are pleased to honor Barrow County as a District of Distinction,” says JD Solomon, editorial director at District Administration magazine. “Like all our honorees, Barrow County School System serves as a model for school leaders across the country.”