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No child left behind: credit recovery program targets at-risk youths

By Carolina Astrain , CAROLINA ASTRAN
Aug. 21, 2014 at 4:39 p.m.


WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

At-risk students are students who have been identified as being homeless, lacking English language proficiency or in danger of dropping out can be identified by the state as an at-risk student, according to Texas Education Code 29.081. Students with disabilities may also be considered to be at-risk of dropping out of school.

Source: Texas Education Agency

Phoenix Academy, a credit-recovery program homespun by Victoria school district administrators and aimed at bolstering college-readiness and high school attendance rates, will be launched this coming school year.

"We're targeting a group of students who are are not on target to graduate with the amount of credits they have," said Sherri Hathaway, VISD associate director of secondary curriculum, instruction and accountability.

At least 38 percent of students at the district's two main high schools - Victoria East, Victoria West - were identified as at-risk, according to a presentation Hathaway gave to Victoria school district trustees at a regular monthly meeting Thursday night.

The program will be limited to 200 students per campus the first year of implementation. Each student part of the program will be assigned a team of campus administrators, who will act as a support group throughout the year, Hathaway said.

"These teams are going to be looking at these students every week and see what some of the barriers are," Hathaway said. "We have great leadership teams put together for our students."

All fifth-year students are eligible for the program; fourth-year students with less than 17 credits and third-year students with less than 10 credits will also be eligible.

Xizavier Olguin, who graduated from VISD this past spring, is no stranger to credit recovery.

"They should expand the program to all students," Olguin, 18, said. "Not doing that is going to take somebody's chance at graduating away."

Olguin was a credit recovery student at Liberty Academy, Victoria ISD's alternative high school campus.

At Liberty, Olguin and his classmates worked on credit recovery through an online program.

Having a team of adults closely monitor his performance throughout the school year doesn't sound too appealing, Olguin said.

"To be honest that would annoy me," Olguin said. "I don't see it as being as productive."

Team members will be composed of an assistant principal, counselor, Community in Schools coordinator, student success facilitator and a special education department head.

"Special education educators are the experts at differentiating learning," she said. "Having that special education person there is going to bring good suggestions in intervention strategies with our kids."

The program will evaluate a student's attendance, end-of-course exams, discipline referrals, credit accrual, college applications and graduation rate.

"I'd like to see what results this program comes up with at the end of the year," Olguin said.

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