Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) has been chosen to receive a Districts of Distinction award for advancing career readiness through the Advanced Authentic Research (AAR) program. Launched at the start of the 2014-15 school year, the AAR program is a unique opportunity for students in grades 10-12 with interest, passion, curiosity, and perseverance, to investigate an authentic topic of their choosing.
The Districts of Distinction is a national, annual award created by District Administration magazine. It honors school districts that are introducing innovative new ideas that work. Specifically, the award is to recognize established initiatives that are yielding quantifiable benefits and that can be replicated by other districts. The award is presented annually these recognized programs are published in the July issue of the District Administration publication.
District Administration applauds AAR’s pairing of students with expert mentors, efforts in getting students to think about and explore future career paths, and presenting students “with real-world problems [in which they] must persevere through ambiguity—common adult experiences” as reasons for honoring PAUSD and AAR.
District Administration specifically cites AAR’s success delivering “personalized learning, knowledge and process integration, and communication of research projects, while striving to nurture curiosity, creativity and resiliency through real-world, hands-on research.”
During the 2014-15 school year, 11 students participated in AAR, it expanded to support 73 students during the 2015-16 academic year, and 181 students investigating various research topics in 2016-17.
As the program continues to grow, AAR is constantly seeking new opportunities and experiences for students. Most recently, AAR began a partnership with Stanford’s d.school to launch Journal AIR, a peer-reviewed academic journal dedicated to publishing original research by high school students. The first issue of journal AIR was published in June and features over 35 projects by AAR students. This is yet another way students can connect to the research community and see the real-world impact of their AAR projects.