Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/washington/news.aspx?id=126973
Story Retrieval Date: 5/22/2013 7:36:07 AM CST
WASHINGTON -- Students at risk for dropping out of high school have found success at alternative schools that partner with local school districts.
Performance Learning Centers, operated by the non-profit Communities in Schools, have helped more than 3,000 students since 2002 graduate from high school in six states.
The curriculum is mostly online and class sizes are generally no larger than 15 students. Teachers, known as "learning facilitators," work with staff to help students with academic as well as non-academic issues.
"It's unfair, and dare I say dangerous, for us to simply expect schools to shoulder the challenge of graduating all of our students on time," said Phillip Lovell, an education advocate from Alexandria, Va. "(Many) kids entering the ninth grade, they're already so far behind that graduation becomes less and less likely of a scenario."
Lovell and other educators were in Washington this week for a forum on why Performance Learning Centers have proven successful.
The forum, sponsored by the Alliance for Excellence in Education, highlighted the success in Georgia, where the first Performance Learning Center was established in 2002.
Guidance counselors identify students who are in danger of dropping out and refer them to the learning centers. Local schools often provide funding and staffing when necessary.
Reginald Beaty is part of the management team that oversees the program in Georgia. He says this model is necessary because some students need more than academic help.
"We have got to have the community and others come in to help teachers deal with those risk factors," said Beaty, a former high school dropout. "Not all students are coming to the classroom dealing just with school. We have to be there to form relationships and motivate our children to do well."