School gets ready for remediation classes |

School gets ready for remediation classes

by Merrie Leininger, Tribune News Service

Douglas High School staff members are preparing for remediation classes required for juniors who have not met the competency requirements.

Principal Charlie Condron told the Douglas County School Board Tuesday DHS will provide 30 “recovery seminars” between one and six weeks long. Condron said a schedule of seminars has been set up based on how much time teachers think students will need to catch up and how many students will need the help.

Condron said seminars will be held before and after school, in night school and during summer school.

“We’re probably three-quarters of a way through the process. We know what we have to offer and when we have to offer it and we are in the process of selection. We will probably need about 15 to 20 teachers, depending on how many seminars they are willing to teach,” Condron said.

He said the teachers will be paid from a state remediation grant awarded to the district last year.

Superintendent Pendery Clark said the school board will also hear from district staff at the Dec. 12 meeting about which competencies might not be required for the classes of 2002, 2003 and 2004. Clark said the staff will first take recommendations to the District Accountability Committee on Nov. 27. The DAC is the group that helped form the competencies.

n What are the competencies? In a competency-based system, teachers expect students to demonstrate their learning. DCSD has set up a system around seven major areas – communication, foreign language, math, science, social science, technology and employability.

The competency-based system forces students to indicate what they learn through research papers, projects and tests.

The last time the students had an opportunity to take the tests – called Achievement Level Tests – was April. The first time juniors took the ALTs, except for the science and integrated I, was in their 9th grade year.

“Our big concern is technology (requirements),” Condron said. “A lot of the students took the (computer literacy) class in 8th or 9th grade. Middle school data was not taken at that time. That is an area we will need to make accommodations for these students because it was a glitch in the system.”

He said the school’s data shows only about 70 juniors had met the technology requirements when the data was compiled Sept. 30.

Condron said the school does not have the resources to offer the course to the majority of the junior class and making up the work would take longer than a seminar could provide.

Condron said the school has few other worries outside of the area of science.

There are still 187 students who have not passed the science ALT and 43 students who have not taken the test. About 264 students have passed. Condron said most of those 43 students are new and make up the same group which has not had time to meet requirements. He said the class also has about 44 special education students and about 10 English as a second language students.

Of those students who have not passed or taken the science test, 65 are not enrolled in any science class this year and will need to take a seminar, he said. However, more than half of the students who haven’t passed are very close to a passing score.

The district staff is expected to ask the school board to take the science ALT off the required list for some juniors. Clark said many students haven’t had the opportunity to learn the three areas addressed in the science ALT exam – life science, physical science and earth science.

“Looking at the test results, we think that might be an issue. They may not have had exposure to all three strands,” Clark said.

The science inquiry project – in which students have to present a hypothesis and test it – is also a competency requirement, but Clark said she doesn’t expect the staff to recommend the science inquiry project be waived.

Condron said 279 students have passed the science inquiry project but 104 have not attempted it and 106 have not passed it.

n Positive news. Almost all the junior class – 433 students – have met the career plan requirements. Only 56 students still need to pass.

The majority have also received passing scores on their expository writing and career research papers. Those who haven’t will be enrolled in one- or two-week seminars, Condron said.

He said the 333 students who have not yet taken the foreign language oral exam are currently enrolled in their second year of foreign language and are expected to pass. Fourteen students have taken the test but not passed, and 142 students have passed the test.

Meanwhile, almost all the students – 411 – passed the ALT basic math test. Only 83 students haven’t taken or haven’t passed the test.

Many students – 146 -haven’t taken the more advanced integrated I math test because they haven’t completed the course, Condron said. Two students have taken and failed the test and 346 students passed the test.

The same number of students – 324 – have passed both the language and reading tests. About 170 students still have to pass both tests.

School board member George Echan said Wednesday he was happy with how the juniors are progressing.

“It looks to me, in most of the core subject matter, we’re doing great. There are problems with technology and the science areas. In those areas, it appears to me, the requirements will have to be addressed and modified,” Echan said. “Overall, in world history, math and reading, I am pretty pleased with where they are. They also really do have a plan to assist those who are struggling.”

School board President Don Forrester said he was impressed with all the work the high school staff has done to help students meet the requirements and said he thinks the end result will be 10 or 15 students who will not be allowed to graduate.

“We are doing a lot, though. And there is 1-1/2 years to work with them,” Forrester said.

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