Thursday, December 4, 2008

Held Back

Early in his tenure, MCS deputy superintendent of academic operations Irving Hamer identified one overarching problem plaguing the district.

Yes, the district suffers from high poverty rates, low graduation rates, myriad student migration, and sluggish test scores, and Hamer's problem — students overage for their grade level — is either a cause or an effect for all of those things.

In August, Hamer told the school board that by 12th grade, 22 percent of the district's students — more than a fifth — are overage.

About 9,000 are held back during elementary school, 7,000 get held back in middle school, and 10,000 are held back during high school.

In January, the district plans to begin MCS Prep Academy, a program for students 14 years old and older who are at least one year overage for their grade. In its initial stages, the academy will take 200 students from each region of the district.

Those 800 students — registration will begin December 11th, I hear, but I don't know exactly how the students will be chosen — will have an extended school day, go to school 11 months out of the year, have individualized learning plans, and receive accelerated credit accumulation.

The district hopes to enlarge the program for the 2009-2010 school year.

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