Rather than looking to blame someone for students who arrive at Lawrence High School without mastery of essential skills, LHS officials have proposed a way to help those students who lag behind.
Mary Rodriguez, who chairs an LHS committee that is overseeing the school's accreditation, presented the plan for a Directed Studies Center at Monday's Lawrence school board meeting.
Rodriguez said the center would provide highly individualized instruction for sophomores who have not demonstrated minimum competency in math, reading, writing or social studies. As part of the school's accreditation by the North Central Assn., the high school's North Central Evaluation Committee has called for all students to demonstrate minimum competency in those areas.
The directed studies program would be housed at LHS. An instructor, perhaps certified in both reading and math, would be in the center all day, working with no more than 10 students per class period. The proposal says that ideally, a second instructor would be available each class period to provide additional individualized instruction. Some LHS students also could help by serving as "peer tutors."
THE PROPOSAL also calls for individualized instruction using computers. Rodriguez said the first-year cost of the program could be anywhere from $45,115 to $78,000, depending on the amount of staffing and the nature of the computer system used.
Rodriguez said that of the approximately 550 students who were sophomores in spring 1991, 57 students did not show minimum competency in math. She said 74 students did not show competency in reading, and 32 did not show competency in social studies.
"Our community must know that all students graduating from Lawrence High will have, at the very least, these skills," Rodriguez said.
Board member Jerry Hannah said he was disturbed that students could progress through elementary school and junior high school without mastery of basic skills.
"WE NEED to look at our curriculum, our academic standards we're developing, kindergarten through eighth grade," Hannah said. "We need to look at the other end of the conveyor belt."
Board President Mary Loveland said that through the state's new Quality Performance Accreditation program, the district will develop student performance standards that should address Hannah's concern.
"These goals, as we complete our work and our efforts, will be translated into goals for each grade level," Loveland said.
Trish Bransky, assistant principal at LHS, said that in the meantime, the directed studies program could help those students who are not demonstrating competency but who already have reached high school.
"I think what we're doing here is taking ownership of the problem that exists," Bransky said.
The board took no action on the directed studies proposal.