Guest Column
This program is helping high schools prepare young talent | Column
3DE is a Junior Achievement education model, a school within a school, that is expanding in Tampa Bay.
The Tampa skyline. For the Tampa Bay area to prosper, we need to train, attract and keep talent. That can start in high school.
The Tampa skyline. For the Tampa Bay area to prosper, we need to train, attract and keep talent. That can start in high school. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Feb. 4, 2022|Updated Feb. 4, 2022

I could not agree more with the points made in a recent Tampa Bay Times editorial headlined “Tampa Bay needs young talent to keep up with other cities.” At the University of South Florida Muma College of Business, we are working hard to bridge the talent gap. In addition we are working with others to address this challenge.

Moez Limayem
Moez Limayem [ Provided ]

For example, last year a solution provider, 3DE Schools, launched through the support of our Tampa Bay business and community partners working closely with our local public school districts. Today’s educational methods need to evolve to prepare students with the skills, mindsets and behaviors to be competitive in our rapidly changing economy. We know that connecting the drivers for economic competitiveness begins in education. Today’s complexities require a new approach to integrate all the factors within education that will position students for opportunity and choice-filled lives and provide our community with the talent needed to “keep up with other cities.”

More About 3DE. 3DE is a Junior Achievement education model that was first launched in Atlanta in 2015 and pitched to the Tampa Bay community in 2018. After two years of getting the model off the ground, in August 2020 — in the middle of a pandemic no less! — JA of Tampa Bay launched 3DE here at four public high schools: Chamberlain High and Hillsborough High (in Hillsborough County) and St. Petersburg High and Dunedin High (in Pinellas County).

What Makes It Different. 3DE by Junior Achievement is a solution provider, an innovative school model that aims to re-engineer high school education to be more relevant, experiential and authentically connected to the complexities that exist beyond the classroom walls. This new instructional model is designed to transform high school education through the lens of equity and economic opportunity.

Working in strategic partnership with local partners, such as ReliaQuest, Raymond James and schools/districts to transform education, the 3DE model operates as a full immersion school-within-a-school with the intention of benefiting both the students within 3DE as well as the broader campus. The competency-based, comprehensive learning model increases student engagement, making learning more reflective of the real world by integrating relevant content, interdisciplinary pedagogy, entrepreneurial thinking, and project/problem-based learning and authentic workplace experiences.

By providing multi-level teacher support and resources, it provides a holistic teaching and learning approach designed to increase teacher support and creative capital. 3DE schools provide a pathway to transformation, beginning with an increase in student engagement that leads to measurable gains in academic achievement, skills and mindset. 3DE students are equipped to think independently, move strategically and work collaboratively, enabling them to transition and matriculate to meaningful post-secondary opportunities.

Designed with intention, 3DE schools apply a comprehensive approach that addresses the systemic gaps within our education system, by fostering school stability through engagement and support of teachers, building a culture of inclusionary instruction and sense of belonging and providing access and exposure industry leaders in diverse, high-growth careers.

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Results. Data from 3DE’s inaugural year in Tampa Bay shows that 88.9% of 3DE students demonstrated an increased proficiency in core academic subjects and outperformed on state assessments over their non-3DE peers. Additional findings saw that there was 19.9% fewer cases of chronic absenteeism as compared to those high school peers, indicating increasing levels of student engagement and learning.

The Future. Because of the positive results, the 3DE high school model will expand next fall to include two new schools: Gibbs High in St. Petersburg and Tenoroc High in Lakeland.

In order for the 3DE model to grow and support our community, we need our local businesses to join the movement to redesign high school education and to better position our students for an equitable future.

There is a problem with the talent gap, and the education system needs to evolve and we all need to work together to bridge this gap. 3DE is a proven innovation that helps address this challenge and it is working.

Moez Limayem is the Lynn Pippenger Dean in the Muma College of Business at the University of South Florida.