School board eyes ‘transition academy’

Dec. 09, 2013 @ 10:40 PM

Vance County Schools unveiled preliminary plans Monday night for an individualized "transition academy" for at-risk students in the county's high schools, which is part of the district's larger effort to increase the graduation rate.

Brian Creasman, assistant superintendent for administrative and instructional support, explained the purpose of the new academy is to target juniors and seniors at Southern and Northern Vance high schools who are on track to drop out of school.

Creasman said the program is designed to increase the county’s graduation rate, which is the lowest in the state and 17 percent below the statwide average, while decreasing dropouts.

At the request of the board, Creasman said his staff explored tactics used by surrounding counties, primarily Granville, Durham and Franklin, but also Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Rockingham County.

Creasman said the main framework for the academy is low teacher to student ratio.

“In order to achieve the classroom model and goals, we are really looking at the student-teacher ratio,” he said. “We are looking at how we can assign a facilitator to work with students. Some students may stay in one particular classroom all day trying to get caught up.”

Creasman and Trixie Brooks, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, used the phrase, “catch up while keeping up” to describe the proposed academy.

“We want to make sure the parents and students understand that we are not saying ‘you can’t go to college,’ we are just saying ‘you need to take a different route to college’ and it is typically through the community college system and we’ve got to make that clear,” Creasman said.

He said the students earning a diploma through the academy would receive a minimum credit diploma for 21 or 22 credits.

The school board’s December agenda packet released last week included a summary of the district’s graduation plans, which will be added to and discussed throughout the school year.

Creasman said at-risk students have chronic attendance issues, significant academic delinquencies and have dropped out or are planning to drop out.

The board received the graduation plan presentation, and the board’s curriculum committee will make changes and present the plan to the full board of education for approval at its January meeting.

The organization of the school board remained the same after Monday night's vote reinstated the chairman and vice chairman.

Gloria White was re-elected to another term as chairwoman by a 5-2 vote, and Darlynn Oxedine was unanimous as vice chairwoman.

Board member Ed Wilson also nominated Ruth Hartness. Wilson and Hartness were the two dissenting votes.

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.