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Grad rate keeps LHS on list

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By CONNIE ESHThe Wilson Post

Less than 2 points kept Lebanon High School on the High Priority List of the Adequate Yearly Progress under the federal No Child Left Behind program.

That’s the word from the Tennessee Department of Education which released the annual report on Wednesday.

Lebanon High’s graduation rate for 2007-2008 was cited for as the reason for the school remaining on the High Priority List, said Wilson County Director of Schools Mike Davis. “Lebanon missed by less than 2 points,” he said. “But we think they will be off the list by next year.” Lebanon High’s graduation rate for ’07-’08 was 82.1 percent, almost 2 percent off its required rate of 84 percent.

He pointed out that the school system has added several programs to help encourage students to graduate.

Instructional Supervisor Felicia Duncan said the A+ Credit recovery program is one of the ways the school system is working with students who might not graduate on time.

“It helps those who may have to leave school at 18 to go to work,” she said. “We have four years and a summer for a student to graduate. With this program and the schools calendar that includes a two week break at the end of each nine-week grading period, students can work during breaks to earn a credit in a subject they may have failed in the regular sessions.

Duncan said students can also pick up needed credits either after or before regular classes with a “Fifth class” program.

She added that graduation coaches mentoring and tracking student at risk to drop out seems to be helping, too.

Also, she said the school system is looking at allowing some middle school students to start taking career technology classes.

“We want them to get a taste of success in those areas,” she said, adding that Bill Moss who is in charge of the Career Center is working with the schools to implement these programs.

All other schools in Wilson County and all schools in the Lebanon Special School District are in good standing, according to the 2009 No Child Left Behind report.

All schools in LSSD met both the reading and the math benchmarks. “Our students, teachers and principals are to be celebrated for ensuring that learning happens everyday,” said Dr. Sharon Roberts, LSSD director of schools.

LSSD has been working especially hard to help Limited English Learners to succeed, she added.

Stan Blades, the federal programs coordinator for LSSD, noted that many of these students have only been in an English-speaking school for two years, but LSSD met the goal of proficiency with these students, too.

“This is a phenomenal feat,” Blades said. “It normally takes two years for students to develop social language and another five to seven years to develop academic language.”

Tennessee measures whether schools and districts are making AYP toward the goal of 100 percent of students being proficient in reading and math with a 90 percent high school graduation rate by 2014. Individual schools not meeting benchmarks in the same subject area for two years are considered “high priority” and receive additional support and interventions from the state, said Dr. Connie Smith, director of Accountability, Teaching and Learning with TDE.

Parents can help, Smith said. All schools must develop school improvement plans, and schools identified as high priority must revise those plans with input from parents. Parents can contact their school to become a member of the School Improvement Planning team. Of course, the best thing they can do is support their own children in their educational efforts, she added.

Staff Writer Connie Esh may be contacted at cewrites@wilsonpost.com

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