Thursday, July 22, 2010

On Track for Graduation

This guest blog post was written by Dennis Ashworth, who retired as Glen Este High School principal July 2010. It was inspired by the Cincinnati Enquirer's questions on preventing high school drop outs.

West Clermont School District has developed intervention programs aimed at increasing our student graduation rate, and deterring teens from dropping out of school. Research shows that the two most critical years for high school students are the 9th and 10th grades. If students have little success and fall behind in those early years, the drop out rate increases dramatically.

Amelia and Glen Este High Schools have programs in place designed to help 9th and 10th grade students stay on track for graduation. We also have programs for juniors and seniors who need extra support during their last years of school.

9th Grade Transition Teams:
Each high school creates incoming 9th grade students' schedules so they are with a team of teachers each day. Transition team teachers develop a common academic plan, and they meet once a week to discuss student progress. The school day is designed to allow each student a sense of structure: what their day will look like, goals, objectives, activities, and expectations. Students get a sense of what to expect each day to organize and prepare for their daily routine. Each 9th grade student is given a Reading Comprehension Assessment and a Learning Style Inventory. Beginning in the fall of 2010, each 9th grader will take the PLAN test from ACT©. Each of these assessments allows the team to generate lessons, activities and assessments that best fit each student. Teachers get to know their students and have an increased opportunity for communication with parents. During parent-teacher conferences the parent can meet with the entire team and get a better picture of how their student works though out the entire day.

10th Grade Level Teams:
These teams operate on the same principle as the 9th grade teams but are designed to help students begin to use the skills from their 9th grade year as a basis for independent work, self motivation, and increased expectations. The Ohio curriculum is standards-based and is developed to give each student the best opportunity to pass the OGT (Ohio Graduation Test) on their first attempt.

Virtual School:
West Clermont has developed a Virtual School Program open to juniors and seniors who have credit deficiencies and are in danger of not graduating, or not graduating with their class. This on-campus program allows students to complete course work using an online high school program approved by the Ohio Department of Education. Students can access their courses both at school and at home which allows them to complete their needed credit requirements. This helps students catch up without overloading them with additional classes in their schedule. It gives them immediate feedback about their progress and allows them the opportunity to work at their own pace. Admittance policies for the Virtual School are stringent and students must maintain specific academic goals to remain in the program. An additional student benefit: the program operates through the summer allowing students to continue the path towards graduation.

Credit Recovery Program:
Credit Recovery operates in the same way as the Virtual Program but is designed for students who need only a few credits. Students maintain their regular daily schedules but have the opportunity to be placed in online courses that they have previously failed. Each student reports to the credit recovery site on campus one hour a day to work, plus they can access the class from home. Both semester work and yearlong work can be recovered this way.

OGT Intervention:
All 11th and 12th graders who have not passed the OGT are placed in OGT Intervention sessions. Students are given specific help in the content area that they must pass on the OGT, with practice tests and online access for additional support. West Clermont also offers Summer OGT Intervention for upperclass students who want to retake the test in July.

All Students:
All high school students have access to several intervention/support programs. West Clermont has developed an active study table program that operates after school three days a week. This 90-minute help session is opened to all students and has teacher support in all core areas. We also offer after school tutoring for any core subject area.

Our goal is to make sure that each student progresses in a way that allows them the opportunity to graduate with their class. Waiting until the senior year does not help the student, the parents, the community, or the district.

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