South Sound high schools are launching an all-out push to help lagging students make it to the commencement line.
Several large schools are hiring graduation specialists to track test scores, monitor individual progress and ensure that kids get the right class and extra help they need. At other schools, the counselor or the principal might shoulder the duty.
Some schools have hired teachers to help teens assemble class work into a “collection of evidence” – one of the state-approved alternatives to demonstrate the knowledge tested on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning.
The Legislature, which has been funding extra high school supports for several years, is giving districts $25 million this school year through its “Promoting Academic Success” program.
Schools receive the money based on the number of their students who failed the 10th-grade WASL and how poorly they performed. Allocations in Pierce County range from $750,000 for the 29,000-student Tacoma district to $50,500 for the 2,100-student Orting district.
Here’s a sample of district efforts to help teens earn a diploma under the new state rules.
Offers special courses in reading and writing and the state’s new “segmented math” class, has a writing and reading tutor at Graham-Kapowsin High, sponsors free summer school, and reduces class sizes in courses designed for students who haven’t passed the WASL.
Hired a teacher-manager to help students compile “collections of evidence,” a district supervisor to oversee graduation-related efforts, and an additional data manager to support teens meeting new requirements. Offers “segmented math” classes and more after-school WASL prep sessions. Class of 2008 members started practicing presentations for their “culminating projects” when they were ninth-graders.
Develops a “student learning plan” for each entering high school student, and continually updates the plan till students pass the WASL; students meet with teachers and parents to review the plan. Offers “collection of evidence” instruction and help to seniors who haven’t passed the WASL, and WASL remediation classes in math and English to juniors who haven’t passed the test. Added three sections of math this fall for seniors who must take math to graduate; offered a summer skills program last summer.
Added after-school WASL prep classes, “segmented math” courses, and after-school “credit retrieval” opportunities for students who failed classes or are behind in credits.
Offers tutoring after school twice a week, a “math standards” class for 11th-graders who didn’t pass the WASL last year, and a “math applications” class for 10th-graders who struggle in math. Offered WASL prep instruction a few days before the August retakes.
Will begin holding Saturday “collection of evidence” seminars and helping students attempt other state-approved alternatives. Has offered summer school, WASL prep classes during school and on Saturdays, more credit recovery classes, more after-school instruction and more math classes.
Requires students struggling in math to take at least two math courses a semester. Offers “segmented math” and more sections of remedial reading and writing classes. Holds “portfolio clubs” after school so students can build a “collection of evidence” portfolio.
Offers “segmented math” and helps students compile the “collection of evidence” alternative. A teacher at each high school spends part of the day tracking student progress toward graduation and connecting students with extra academic help.
Added new WASL prep classes and a summer school prep class. Will hold a graduation requirements meeting for parents at 6:30 p.m. this Wednesday in the Orting High School commons.
Built new databases to keep school staff abreast of students’ progress toward meeting WASL requirements. Added “segmented math.” Trained teachers on “collection of evidence” alternative. Counselors met with students to review their status and explain new requirements. Principals are personally monitoring progress of seniors who haven’t met WASL standards.
Added an “on-time graduation specialist” at each of the district’s four high schools, “segmented math” classes, and instructors to teach “collection of evidence” classes in literacy and math. Provides smaller math classes for struggling students. Provided reading and writing tutors in summer school.
Meeting individually with parents and each senior not on target to earn a Certificate of Academic Achievement or (for special-education students) a Certificate of Individual Achievement to inform them of options to earn one. Offers after-school tutoring and a new remedial English class to prepare for WASL. Students who didn’t pass the math WASL are enrolled in math classes.
Hired two instructors to teach additional math courses using the individually paced Cognitive Tutor program. Offers academic help after school and in the summer.
Created a district-level coordinator for graduation requirements and a database to track students’ progress. Hired four graduation support specialists to help kids along the way and deployed them so each high school has one half-time. Has a nine-member Graduation Advisory Leadership Team to make sure schools, students and parents have all the information they need. Developed extra math classes and assigned high school counselors to help kids get the classes they need. Conducted parent information nights and produced fact sheets and a brochure on frequently asked questions.
Increased counseling staff to better monitor students’ progress toward graduation and steer students to tutoring. Offered summer school. Added an English intervention class, a math lab, more math classes and math and writing tutorials.
Added more math, personal finance math, literacy support and study skills classes.
Added math courses designed for students who haven’t met the math WASL requirement.
Added “segmented math” and remedial math classes, “collection of evidence” classes, WASL prep classes and a teacher to help students meet the reading and writing standards.
Debby Abe: 253-597-8694
Staff writer Kris Sherman contributed to this report.