Failing seniors get a second chance

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Credit Recovery program will help students graduate on time without summer school

By Jennifer Garcia

Typically, seniors who are lacking the sufficient number of credits to graduate have to make them up during the summer, but a pilot program being implemented by Los Alamos High School could change that.
During Tuesday night’s school board meeting, Superintendent Gene Schmidt said the school district is trying to identify the population of students most at risk for not graduating on time. He said there are upward of 10 seniors who could benefit from the program that is being offered through IDEAL-NM, a state-approved online program.
The program would allow students who are credit deficient to take online courses, which will be taught by a certified teacher. Also, a certified teacher will be in the classroom with the students to help guide them through the courses.
“It’s possible that some juniors might also be interested,” Schmidt said. “We’re going to start small, as a pilot program and will evaluate it at the end of the semester. This might be something that needs to grow in the future.”
School Board Member Thelma Hahn asked Schmidt how many credits these students typically need to make up in order to graduate.
“They need one to four credits,” Schmidt said. “Four would be a lot.”
As the discussion progressed, School Board Member Kevin Honnell said that initially, when talk about this program began, freshmen and sophomores were mentioned as possible candidates for credit recovery, however, seniors are now being targeted instead.
“What guided you?” he asked Schmidt.
“There are opportunities for freshmen to make up those credits,” Schmidt said. “They still have three and a half years to figure it out.”
LAHS social studies teacher Brian Easton spoke out about the process through which teachers go through in helping their students pass classes. He said teachers go through at least 10 steps in an effort to help students succeed.
“These students have not been successful in a classroom setting. Teachers at the high school want to be part of the program,” Easton said. “We’re talking about students who are most at risk. We like this idea and that we’re not losing resources.”
Easton said the resources that teachers have will go directly to the students who need it.
“We know that what we have right now is not working,” he said.
Honnell said he liked the idea of having a teacher in the classroom, even though the courses will be online.
“It’s genius,” he said. “It’ll make a world of difference. For every two students who are successful, it’s a 1 percent uptick in graduation. It’ll change lives and get closer to the 100 percent (graduation rate).”
The program, which starts Jan. 3, still is in the planning stages, so it’s not clear where on the LAHS campus the classes will be held. Schmidt said, though, he has a couple of ideas.
For more information on the Credit Recovery Program, visit  www.ideal-nm.org.