A new computer-based program at Pepperell High School is making a big impact in helping more teens reach “Destination Graduation.” Before the technology age, a high school teen who failed a class would have to sit through the entire class again to correct the mistake. Often, the student only had a problem with part of the classwork but still had to sit through the entire class a second time. The new Title I funded Chrome lab at Pepperell allows students to take the class online in a self-paced environment so that they can move forward in the class material as they master the information.
There have been 107 students in the program during different times of this school year working to recover credits from a failed class. Students in the program range from freshmen to seniors and they are assisted by Norma Williams, graduation interventionist at Pepperell, and a rotating group of teachers and paraprofessionals. Williams tracks student progress and conferences with them to help meet their goals. Subject teachers from math, science, language arts and social studies rotate into the lab throughout the day to assist students with questions regarding course content.
“My motto for this program is keep-up and catch-up,” stated Williams. “This program is vital for kids who mess-up during their freshman year or for students who lose credits in transfers from other school systems.” Students come to the lab at Pepperell during their elective classes and work on the Plato Internet based program to re-take a course they failed. The computer allows the student to move-on when they have mastered the content and complete the course in less time than taking the complete class over again. The grade earned on the computer does not replace the original grade in the class. Both the original grade and the grade from the Chrome lab will appear on the student’s transcripts.
For seniors, this program keeps them on track to graduate in May. “It means graduation, so it means a lot to me,” commented Austin Knowles, a senior at Pepperell. “Without this opportunity to fix one math grade I messed up on, I would not get to graduate this year.” Knowles added, “One-on-one help from a teacher when I don’t understand something also makes a difference.”
Knowles is just one of many students catching-up with the Chrome lab graduation intervention program. One student, who was to be a senior this year but only had enough credits to qualify as a junior, has recovered 12 credits in the program. That student has regained senior status. Another student had been home schooled and enrolled at Pepperell showing no high school credits. The student will catch-up to his class by the end of the year and will be on schedule when next school year begins.
Williams and the graduation interventionist at other Floyd County high schools are using a variety of alternative options to help get, and keep, students on track for graduation. Saturday school is held several times during the year and before and after school tutoring is available. “The Chrome lab just provides a concentrated period of time at the home school that a student can work to catch-up,” commented Williams. “This is making a tremendous impact for our students.”
Photo: Bobby Mintz, math teacher; and Austin Knowles, a senior at Pepperell High, discuss math in the Chrome lab.