Blue Ridge Tries "Platooning"

WALLA WALLA -- An elementary school is shaking up the way kids learn.

Blue Ridge has been among the worst of the worst and when you can only go up, the school will try teaching young ones the way high school kids are taught: teachers focus on one subject, rather than many.

Fifth grader Juan Montero loves math and he's getting a big dose of it this year.

"I like division and multiplication," Juan Montero explains.

Juan has a teacher who is also dedicated to math.

It's part of "platooning", where the students move as a class to a different teacher for each subject.

"We're learning more math," Juan Montero said.

Teachers are also on board.

"It gives me a lot of freedom to plan deeper than I ever have before. In the past I've had to plan 5 to 6 subjects every day, and now I'm planning reading and math and looking stronger at the standards," Corey Hobbs, a teacher at Blue Ridge said.

It's part of the Walla Walla School District's push to get Blue Ridge Elementary up to speed.

The school is one of the lowest performing in the state.

Students are more disadvantaged than most.

"Our hurdles are, we have 97% free and reduced we have a large second language learning population. We have validated that. We're not admiring the problem. We are working with it. Our hurdles are higher," explained Principal Kim Doepker.

Blue Ridge is the first school in the district to try platooning.

It's a system already working in Burbank.

Mariano Alvarto finds his struggles in reading are improving.

"We get 10 minutes of silent time and we get to read and I've been getting better at reading," said Mariano Alvarto, also a 5th grader at Blue Ridge.

That's the goal: give students a boost to help turn around a troubled school.

The Walla Walla School District says other elementary schools in the district are interested in platooning.

Blue Ridge will be a test of the program's success.