November 23, 2014

SSC programs aim to help students graduate

By James Kuch
Staff Writer | news@arenacindependent.com
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STANDISH — Standish-Sterling Community Schools is continuing to look at ways to help students graduate on time.

Beverly Skinner, director of instructional services for SSCS said that there are a number of programs available to help students who are struggling in school.

“We want to give students every opportunity they need to be successful,” she said.

A credit recovery program, designed to get students who have fallen behind on core credits back on track, began at Standish-Sterling Central High School last summer, and Skinner said that 43 students recovered credit. Currently, only three students at SSC are enrolled in the credit recovery program.

Skinner said that there may be a number of reasons as to why only three students are currently enrolled.

“We have to consider that there might be transportation issues,” she said. “Also, some students may be so far behind that they have to come back for a fifth year, and others may be battling some emotional issues where life has become overwhelming.”

Skinner said that the credit recovery program is funded with federal Title 1 money, as well as state At-Risk money. According to michigan.gov, Title 1 is a federal program enabled to help disadvantaged children help meet high economic standards. Skinner said At-Risk is a state funded program to help youth who are at risk of not being successful in school.

She said that SSCS receives around $400,000 from Title 1 funds and around $300,000 from At-Risk money.

Skinner said that money from Title 1 and At-Risk go toward funding a number of services for the district.

Skinner said that the district’s ultimate goal is to have students not need services like credit recovery, but it’s the districts job to be sure that students find success.

“We have to support the (students) who need help,” she said. “Not everyone learns at the same pace.”

In 2009, SSCS graduated 88.64 percent of its students, more than 13 percent higher than the state average of 75.23 percent.

Still, board members questioned Principal Roger Fritz about the high school’s procedures for students who are struggling at the latest school board meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 10. Both the board and Fritz agree there are more steps that should be taken.

“Our goal is to get students, if they’re struggling, to come on in at 7 a.m. and get some extra help,” Fritz said. “Some of our programs have not been well received (by students). Typically, students don’t get (worried about failing) until it’s spring time.”

Fritz said more parents need to be notified when their child is struggling.

“When we began (credit recovery) we put (the information) out to every parent. I know that we put it into the school newsletter,” he said. “We would like to see teachers making phone calls. That is another thing we are looking into.”

Fritz said that he has made phone calls to all parents of freshmen who are in danger of failing.

“A problem that you run into is numbers have changed and teachers don’t have up to date information,” he said.

Credit recovery is not the only program available for SSC students. Skinner said there are also an after school homework room and the district is looking at the addition of a Saturday school, where students can recover credit and receive help.

Ultimately, Skinner said it’s up to the school to provide guidance and up to students to do the work.

“We have to give students every chance to pass, but they have to take advantage of it,” she said.

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