Editorial: Unresolved education solution

Jan. 18, 2014 @ 11:57 PM

With their vote on Monday evening, the school board in Vance County has made what they believe to be a key element in changing the graduation cohort rate.

We believe they’ll improve statistical rates. We are unconvinced they are fixing the problem.

Graduation cohort rates tell how many students entered into a high school as freshmen and how many leave within a set number of years. The four-year cohort rate for the Vance County Schools system, for the Class of 2013, was 64.9 percent. That’s 115th out of 115 school systems in the state.

The state rate was a record 82.5 percent. In the last eight years, the VCS system has had 2,062 students not graduate in four years.

The day the 2013 rate came out, the school board and county commissioners were meeting jointly. Superintendent Ronald Gregory has met with principals.

The curriculum committee has met several times. Other school systems, some with arguably questionable comparison to Vance County demographics, have been consulted. A never-before education summit was convened.

The Transition Academy has been born. According to Brian Creasman, an assistant superintendent, it is a personalized plan for catching up and finishing required credits. Only juniors and seniors will be included.

Those students’ required 28 credits will be reduced to 21 or 22, the state minimum. That’s very much like Western Vance High, an alternative school for students at risk of dropping out or not finishing high school.

Trixie Brooks, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, explained Transition Academy students don’t need the same level of support as Western students.

“We consider Western Vance our very at-risk population of students,” Brooks said.

She also said, “Ninth-graders sometimes are still finding themselves. They may fail a course or two, but that is not going to be an indicator that you are a minimum requirement student.”

By our math, freshmen who fail two classes, or even one, need extra attention before their junior year.

Changing required credit hours reduces the students’ education. It also helps fix statistics with the state Department of Public Instruction.

That looks good on paper for the administration and an elected school board. It’s a nice cover.

But it won’t assure VCS has improved and fixed its problem.