Change proved to be a tough pill to swallow for some members of the Campbell County Board of Education. During Tuesday’s meeting the group was charged with making a number of revisions to its policy in order to comply with the requirements of the newly adopted American Diploma Project.
In the shift from block to period scheduling board members were asked to consider revisions in the graduation requirements. While the bulk of changes are intended to protect the credits of students caught in the transition, board member Mark A. Wells pointed to a portion of the policy he found alarming.
According to the revised graduation requirements, special education students with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) will be required to take and pass Algebra I in order to be eligible for graduation.
Wells questioned the feasibility of such a requirement for students classified as special education.
“I don’t see we have any choice but to pass it, but there are some pretty serious problems,” Wells said.
In response to Wells’ concerns, Dr. Michael Martin, director of schools, pointed out that Algebra I is a component of the Gateway exam, which special education students are also required to pass.
“Historically our special education students have passed the Gateway at a higher percentage than the regular education students, so we can do this,” Martin said of the revised education requirements.
Changes in the class ranking policy also created some discussion.
With years of controversy concerning the naming of valedictorians and salutatorians, board members were all ears for the solution provided in the provision.
According to Martin, the awarding of valedictorian and salutatorian honors will be phased out by 2013.
According to the terms of the American Diploma Project, beginning with the 2009-10 freshman class students will work toward graduating with honors or distinction.
“I hope we don’t have a big fuss next year,” board chairman Eugene Lawson stated.
Martin speculated that the new policy that would allow for only one valedictorian and salutatorian per class until phased out, would likely be unpopular with some.
“I would guess you are going to have a big fuss because this is not business as usual,” Martin said.
When it came time to vote the measure passed with six yes votes. Board members Walt Goins and Mike Orick abstained while Wells voted no to the changes.
In keeping with improving student performance, the board voted to implement two courses.
Both Jellico and Campbell County High Schools were given the green light to add an ACT preparation course to the curriculum. The course will be available to junior and senior students at each school.
Martin addressed the validity of the program and told the board he hoped in the future there would be a need to create additional ACT preparation classes to meet student demand.
“I’m going to hope we come back asking for permission to add more (classes),” Martin said.
The board also voted to allow the addition of a virtual tutoring program for high school students.
Martin explained that the E20/20 virtual tutoring is an online intervention program. In addition to addressing performance deficiencies for students in critical areas, the program will also allow students who have fallen behind a means to graduate on time.
Martin also informed the board Jellico High School received notice that it had been awarded the High School Redesign grant.
The grant will provide the school with $500,000 for the next three years to implement a plan an approved plan to improve student performance.
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