Academy revisions forwarded to full school board

Dec. 20, 2013 @ 10:12 PM

The Vance County school board could approve a new minimum credit diploma program by the end of next month.

The proposed Transition Academy would target students who entered ninth grade in 2010 and 2011 and are off track to graduate in 2014 and 2015, said Trixie Brooks, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, at the school board’s curriculum committee Thursday.

The curriculum committee approved the revisions to the proposed academy. Approval is needed from the full board for implementation.

The academy was part of the school system’s answer to the latest cohort graduation rate, where Vance County was at 64.9 percent for the four years ending this past spring. Vance County Schools’ ranking was No. 115 of 115 public school systems in the state.

The revised procedures for the academy were substantially similar to those initially presented to the school board earlier this month.

“As we have received feedback from various stakeholders that we talked to and met with, we made some changes because this is a work in progress and we are trying to make sure that we meet the needs of those students to ensure our kids can graduate and go to on to higher learning, military, world of work, whatever they aspire to do,” Brooks said.

The revised procedures address athletic eligibility, which was requested by the school board at its last meeting.

Student-athletes enrolled in the academy must meet all Vance County Schools and N.C. High School Athletic Association eligibility requirements in order to participate in NCHSAA sponsored athletics, according to the revised procedures.

But the eligibility of students in the 2014 and 2015 cohorts, and those who recently dropped out, will be determined on a case-by-case basis, the revised procedures state.

“In a nutshell, the transition program will be at Northern and Southern Vance using the state-required 21 and 22 minimum credits to graduate,” Brooks said.

The academy includes online courses that allow students to recover credits from classes they failed, or catch up on credits if they are falling behind.

The nearby counties of Durham and Granville counties are among those who also use online course options.

James Key said students in Durham Public Schools have found online instruction quite successful. Key is the area superintendent for high schools in Durham Public Schools.

“It’s not a pure online model,” Key said. “There are certified teachers working side-by-side with students as they are doing an assignment or various assessments, and moving from one class to the next.”

He said Durham Public Schools offers more than 30 online courses with about 400-600 students enrolled in a typical year.

The online program in Granville County, Granville Online or GO, has expanded since it began more than four years ago.

When the program launched in 2009, there were 64 students and four classes, said Vanessa Wrenn, director of instructional technology at Granville County Schools.

“We started with algebra, biology, English I and U.S. history,” Wrenn said. “We have added classes every year based on student demand. My motto has been ‘say yes,’ instead of saying ‘I’m sorry, we don’t have that.’”

This school year, she said the online program offers 43 classes with more than 1,000 students enrolled.

Wrenn said the program gives middle school and high school students flexibility to take electives or core classes.

“Online classes are structured just like traditional classes,” she said. “They take the same assessments and the course content is no different than brick or mortar classrooms.”


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