Friday, September 9, 2011

Schools Aim to Keep Students On Track At a Critical Juncture - Chicago News Cooperative

Schools Aim to Keep Students On Track At a Critical Juncture - Chicago News Cooperative
On the first day of school nearly two weeks ago, Jillian Carew quickly realized getting all of her freshman algebra students on the same page would be a monumental task.

That’s because the 250-plus freshmen at Johnson College Prep, a Noble Street Charter School, come from 124 different elementary schools. The new class did have one thing in common, however.

“We definitely found out very early on that they really don’t know how to multiply,” Carew said. “Some of them are even struggling with adding.”

Each year, high schools across the city must quickly acclimate students to the rigors of high school. In Chicago Public Schools, where the graduation rate hovers just above 50 percent, the transition between eighth grade and freshman year is crucial to setting students on a path to graduate.

Research conducted by the Consortium on Chicago School Research shows that students who are on-track at the end of freshman year are four times more likely to graduate from high school. On-track students are defined as those who have earned at least 5 full credits and have not failed more than one semester of a core subject.
Here's a program that could've been used when I was in high school. Have any of you ever heard about it?
CPS has its own initiative to ease the transition to high school. Freshman Connection, launched in the summer of 2008, is a four-week summer program that provides incoming students with extra math and literacy instruction, as well as a course designed to address skills such as time management and conflict resolution.

About 11,000 students participated in this year’s program, according to district spokeswoman Ana Vargas. The average attendance rate during the first quarter of the school year for students who participated in the program last year was 93.8 percent, compared to 88.1 percent for students who did not participate.
I could almost chuckle hearing about the rigors of high school vs. elementary school. When it was that time for me, I was warned about the rigors and found that it didn't matter. Of course I'm talking about something that happened many years ago. I would expect times have changed in many of our high schools.

BTW, during the course of the summer Harlan's calendar was filled with events regarding Freshman Connection registration. Same program and hopefully - well expectedly - positive results!

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