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Putting Research Into Action at ACS Athens

By June 8, 2023No Comments

Teachers and leaders at American Community Schools (ACS) Athens use research to inform how they carry out their work, from curriculum design to teacher training to operations.

The K-12 American International school, which is located in an Athens suburb just minutes from the birthplace of Western civilization, has a diverse study body of over 60 different nationalities.

Faculty at ACS Athens are continuously learning and improving, which is one reason why they decided to undertake Middle States’ Sustaining Excellence protocol, which uses strategic planning and action research as vehicles for growth and improvement.

The protocol may be used for high performing schools that seek reaccreditation and wish to continue to excel.

In recent years ACS Athens has used action research…

In the Classroom

Learning physics is a challenge for many students, which is why ACS Athens’ science teachers decided to mix things up. After realizing that some of their students were having trouble understanding physics taught from a book, they created simulations and hands-on labs, and had students collect and analyze data.

In one experiment, students took video of a free-falling aluminum foil ball. Then, they slowed the video to collect frame-by-frame images of the ball, which allowed them to track the position, velocity and acceleration of the ball over time. After producing graphs and contrasting them with theoretical graphs, they calculated the gravitational field of strength of the Earth.

Another lab required students to record video of a wooden block sliding down an incline plane. Again using video to track the path of the block, they were able to calculate the force between the block and the plane.

In Teacher Development

Teachers at ACS Athens are given scheduled time to engage in action research beginning in their second year with the school.

School leaders have found that providing teachers with the opportunity to pursue action research values their need to solve the challenges they face in their classrooms, and provides an important opportunity for professional development. Typically a teacher will research a topic that is important to them, collect data, and apply a solution that can be applied in the classroom.

In Operations

All members of the ACS Athens community engage in action research–even the IT department. When the IT team realized it could be managing work orders, event bookings, and IT requests more efficiently, it set out to find a software program that was a good fit for the school. Members of the team researched best practices, collected data on the products in the marketplace, and came to a shared consensus about which software program worked best for them.

“Engaging faculty and staff in action research at ACS Athens has been a natural continuation of learning for all within our educational institution,” said Peggy Pelonis, Ed.D., president of ACS Athens. “We are a model for our students.”

Interested in learning what your school can achieve by using the Sustaining Excellence protocol? Contact Henry McCorkle, director of Global Membership at or 267.284.5057.

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