By DAVID GREEN
In years past, failing a high school course wasn’t the end of the world. There was always next year when the class could be repeated.
That’s not the case anymore, not with Michigan’s new graduation requirements.
Next year’s senior class is the last to finish up before the new rules take effect. After that there will be no such thing as “next year.” With four years of mathematics and English required, students won’t have a next year to take a class over again.
Summer school was also an option in many districts, said Morenci Area High School principal Nate Parker, but that’s changing, too.
Summer school typically meant an intensive two-week session, but those abbreviated classes are falling by the wayside, also.
The only way to get the job done now is to enroll in the district’s credit recovery program via on-line courses. Districts throughout the state are moving in the same direction to help students meet the new requirements and earn a diploma.
Although several companies offer on-line courses approved by the state education department, Morenci administrators chose to go with the Arizona-based Education 2020 program.
By working through the Monroe-Lenawee ISD consortium, the district is saving a large sum of money. Each license costs $550 annually and Morenci has purchased 10 licenses. Any number of students are allowed to use the service, but only 10 at any one time are able to log in to a class.
For summer school use, students will meet with a school staff member only on the first and final day of the class. After that first day, students must work on their own until the final exam when a monitoring teacher is present.
If a student doesn’t have an internet connection at home, work will have to be done at Stair Public Library or at a friend’s house.
The classes are much different than the two-week sessions, Parker said.
“Teachers have gone through the material and are impressed,” he said.
They’re convinced students will face a rigorous challenge just as they would in a regular classroom. Success with “homework” and tests will determine advancement through the material.
With each course, the anticipated completion time is given, although that will vary with each student and how much time is devoted to the class on a daily basis.
“Some kids who struggle in the classroom will succeed with the computer version,” Parker said, but it probably won’t be the answer for everyone.
Motivation and dedication are still needed and each student will have to provide that.
Parker sees uses for the Education 2020 program beyond credit recovery. He expects the program to be used extensively in the alternative education class. State requirements have changed there, too, and a teacher must be certified for each course offered, just like in a regular classroom.
It will also be used during the school year for a student who can’t fit an essential class into his or her schedule.
The courses can also be tailored to include only a portion of a class. If a student were doing well in geometry, but couldn’t understand a particular concept, extra help could come through Education 2020.
Students will pay a fee for credit recovery summer school, but the charge has not yet been determined. Students using the program during the regular school day—or those who choose to log in for some remedial help—will not pay.
Parker looks forward to putting the program to use. Now, he says, summer school is really going to mean something.