Published 7:32 pm Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Lewis Smith, a Calhoun ninth grader gets tutoring in algebra over the summer from Aaron Casby.

Lewis Smith, a Calhoun ninth grader gets tutoring in algebra over the summer from Aaron Casby.


Editor’s note: This is the second of a two part series of stories on efforts by the Lowndes County Board of Education to improve the graduation rate and the performance of Lowndes County Public School students.

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While Lowndes County School Superintendent Dr. Daniel Boyd acknowledged the 2012 graduation rate was an improvement, he stressed, “We’re still working with our teachers and our principals through professional development, trying our very best to provide the training that they need so our scores can increase,”

Boyd also pointed to summer programs across the county to help students bridge the gap from the end of one school year to the next by helping students retain what they learned, credit recovery programs and remediation tutorials for students who did not pass the graduation exam.

The following is a look at those programs held this summer from both the teacher and student points of view.

Dr. Lorenza Smith serves as coordinator of the high school graduation remediation-tutoring program for Lowndes County Public Schools.

“What we do is each year at the beginning of the year we receive communication from the state of Alabama based on the number of sub-tests failed by our students,” Smith said. He also said the school system is allocated funding to have remediation programs though the year through providers.

Smith said that during the summer there is one designated site, which was Calhoun School this year.

He said students were afforded an opportunity to get a registration form, fill it out, check off those sub-tests they failed and were provided tutoring in those areas.

He said the classes were scheduled from 8:30-11:30 a.m. four days per week. This year, he said, the program was also tied in with the Summer Bridge Program, which provided transportation for students.

Smith said for one hour per class the students work on three sub-tests Reading/ Language, math and social studies.

“Now our science/biology fail rate is no where close to other areas meaning that we are very successful in that area,” Smith said.

“So in essence our focus is on reading, the math, the language and the social studies,” he said.

He said highly qualified instructors were hired who work based on standards required to pass these parts of the high school graduation exam.

“What we have through out registration process are rising seniors as well as seniors who may have not passed the test as of March of 2013,” Smith said.

He said this summer these students had the opportunity July 8-12 to take whatever sub-test they needed to pass.

“Even if they should have been a graduating senior… they pass it… they have an opportunity to move on with a high school diploma,” he said.

According to Smith, the majority of the students, however, were rising seniors (students on a path toward graduation on time with their classmates). “We didn’t have that many in the graduating level seniors this year finishing up,” he said.

While Smith said social studies were a larger problem area than others, it was a district test and students from both Central and Calhoun High participated.

In the programs offered, Smith said, “Rising students have the opportunity to come and do remediation in the summer and pass all parts and don’t have to worry about the test the rest of the year.”

He also said that in September, December and March there will be tutoring when providers come in to work with each school “to make sure those students have an opportunity to address each one of those standards so that they can meet that requirement as needed to be successful in the Alabama High School Graduation Exam.”

Boyd explained the students who failed last year do not help the graduation rate. “We just try to help so they can have all the requirements of graduation,” he said. “The students that are rising seniors… that will help the graduation rate.”

Rising seniors, Summer Bridge Program students and teachers all expressed their appreciation of the programs offered by Lowndes County Public Schools.

Marcus Flowers, a Central High rising senior, said, “It will help me passed the (graduation) test.”

Kaneka Threatt, a teacher said, “I think this program is great. It allows students to receive the one-on-one tutoring instruction that they miss out on during the school year.”

Aaron Casby, who teaches algebra said, “The Summer Bridge Program is important in that it allows students to continue their instruction and learning and gives them help in the area in which they are deficient. So it becomes important in bridging the gap from middle school to high school.”

Lewis Smith a Calhoun 9th grader said, “I think it is a great opportunity for you to do (work) over the summer to keep you out of trouble. The teachers do a good job teaching us.”

Tamia McMeans 9th grader at Central said, “It enriches your learning.”

Mary Bibb, site coordinator for the Summer Bridge Program said the purpose is to bridge the gap between the end and beginning of school “because during the summer most our students lose the learning that they’ve had during the year, so we try to retain that so that they will see an improvement in their grades for the next year. And we focus on basically standards or objectives that they have not fully understood the previous year.”

She said, “I think we’ve made some tremendous strides this summer. The kids that were here were really engaged, the teachers were really engaging, and I think from what they did at the showcase, they learned a lot.”

She said the students who participated will be tracked during the upcoming school year to see if there is an improvement…

Another program was the E-20-20 Lab.

Boyd said this program enables students to earn Carnegie Units when they did not earn them during the school year.

“So if a student earns a failing grade in a particular class they can take this class during the summer,” Boyd said. “There is a small fee for registration for the class. But the student is allowed to take the class via online program and if they meet all the requirements of the course and they pass the final test for this particular class then they earn a Carnegie Unit.”

Delvin Lewis, a Calhoun senior said, “I think it’s a good program to work on to get your credit and still be in the right grade.”

Sacouya Robertson, who teaches the E-20-20 class, explained that it  “ is an online computer program that allows remediation intervention or credit recovery. “Those students who fail courses during the year have the opportunity to make them up in order to get on schedule to graduate for the upcoming school year,” she said.

Cory Bartee, a ninth grade Calhoun High student said, “I think it is a very great program to retake something that we didn’t get done during the school year.”