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Tutoring And Remediation Mean Support For On Time Graduation

Quite arguably, it could be said that these are the best of times and the worst of times. Much like Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities, the recession, lack of jobs, and global strife can all paint a dismal picture of our current times. And yet, never before has there been the promise of hope through technological innovations and new ways of communicating. An increase in impending technology by itself, dictates that new opportunities will be available for those that meet the new qualifications for success. Moreover, the history of American tenacity and determination promises a bright future for our country and our youth. Indeed, despite our current times, there is the assurance of hope for our youth. However, to assure that our youth can endure these difficult times and enjoy our future prosperity, there is one critical thing they will need: a high school diploma.

Whether you consider the challenges of our present or the promise of future prosperity, the need for a high school diploma is critical. Not only does the completion of high school provide a foundation for success for our students, it also opens the doors for future opportunities, such as post secondary education, entrance into the armed services, or the workforce. Without a high school diploma, these options become less of a reality for our learners. Moreover, the chance for the future prosperity of our community can be directly attached our students graduating on time. If this prosperity is dependent on our youth, then the need for them to have the basic tools for success is essential. The life skills that a student receives from a high diploma are a cornerstone to success.

Prince Edward County High School's goals coincide with these needs. As a school in transformation, there are federal and state benchmarks that our school is required to meet regarding on time graduation. Over the past two years, an emphasis has been made to students and faculty members communicating the importance of graduating in four years. Last year, our school not only looked closely at student achievement data in regards to on time graduation, but also created several systems and processes to support our students who are in danger of not graduating on time. Because of these systems and processes and the support of our Superintendent, Dr. K. David Smith and our School Board, Prince Edward County High School is moving closer to meeting federal and state benchmarks.

But as a community, our goal should entail more than meeting mandated state and federal benchmarks. Much like attendance, if we want excellence for our learners and our community, our goal should be to exceed these criteria. Simply put, we should want all of our learners to graduate in four years. In order to do this, the accumulation of verified credits is critical.

A verified credit is awarded when a student passes a core area class (English, math, history, or science) and then passes the corresponding Standard of Learning (SOL) Test at the end of the year. If a student passes a class, but does not pass the SOL, then he or she will not receive the needed verified credit for graduation. When considering that a student needs six verified credits for a standard diploma and nine verified credits for an advanced diploma, passing SOL tests and accumulating verified credits are extremely important.

In regards to graduating in four years, passing SOL tests and accumulating the necessary verified credits before the senior year is essential. Ideally, students should have accumulated all of the necessary verified credits at the conclusion of their junior year. If our community is committed to the goal of a 100% on time graduation rate, then we should be committed to our students passing all needed SOL tests before their senior year.

If a student does not pass an SOL test, they must receive tutoring or remediation in order to help insure that they pass the test later. Our students receiving tutoring and remediation is critical in helping students pass a SOL test if they have had previous difficulty. In the last two years, our school has offered remediation and tutoring for students after school if they fail an SOL in a previous year. Many of our teachers have also given up planning time to provide remediation for students who need to pass a SOL test for verified credits. These efforts are just a few of the processes and systems in place to support our students graduating in four years. Regardless of which option a student chooses, without tutoring or remediation, passing the needed SOL tests to graduate becomes less of a reality.

This summer PECHS will offer another option for students to receive remediation. The Summer Success Program is a further choice to support our students graduating on time. Selected students have received letters inviting them to this beneficial program. The dates for the Summer Success Program are as follows: June 25 -28, July 2- 3, and July 9- 12, 2012, from 8:00 A.M. – 2:00 P.M. School will be closed on Fridays. Breakfast and lunch will be provided. Also door to door transportation will be provided. Most importantly, this program is free.

If your child has been selected for this program or if you know a student who was selected, I am asking our parents and community members to support this beneficial program by encouraging our students to attend. Our Summer Success and our After School Remediation programs are intended to support the achievement of our students. But in order for these programs to be beneficial, our students must be present. As a school and a community, let's send a consistent message to our students about passing SOL tests and graduating on time. Let's make sure that our Summer Success Program and our After School Remediation Program are a success by making sure that our learners attend in order to be successful. Ultimately, whether it is the Summer Success Program or the After School Remediation Program during the academic year, we should insist that our students get the support that they need in order to graduate in four years.

When Dickens wrote A Tale of Two Cities, he was referring to an impending revolution that would change Europe in a number ways. Prince Edward County High School is continuing to transform. Let's create a revolution in the best interest of our students. Our school and our community should not only be committed to our students passing all SOL tests needed for verified credits, we should be unified in ensuring that all of our students graduate on time. Let's continue the change in the best interest of our students, by encouraging remediation for our students in need.

(Mr. Reed is principal of Prince Edward County High School and writes the On The Wings Of Eagles column for The Farmville Herald)