Archive for Thursday, June 30, 2011

Lawrence school district plans to add online classes to help prevent dropouts

June 30, 2011


Students on the brink of dropping out of school will be given another reason to stay on campus for the new year.

The Lawrence school district plans to add an online curriculum at both Free State and Lawrence high schools, a course structure designed to give such students the focus, freedom and flexibility to complete their studies.

For a district with a graduation rate of 85.8 percent, officials consider dedicating a few computers to help at-risk students stay connected to be a wise investment.

“The need is there,” said Sharen Steele, director of the district’s new Adult Education Center. “This district is being very forward-thinking. We really can’t continue to look at education in the same exact way we’ve always looked at it. We have to look at alternatives.”

The district is adding software licenses for the schools, tacked onto the district’s existing Diploma Completion Program, which last year helped 36 adults and eight high school students earn their diplomas. The district is buying 100 licenses, for $70,000, to be used for several programs during the coming year.

For the first time, some of those licenses will be used on computers at the high schools themselves. That way, students who may not feel comfortable with the schedule, the structure or other components of the school day may be able to continue and complete their course work via computer.

Now that such offerings have proven successful for students in the Diploma Completion Program, Steele said, it’s time to test them in the schools themselves.

Kim Bodensteiner, the district’s chief academic officer, describes the move as a “field test” for the coming year.

Steele said it would be a good opportunity to expand the program beyond the limit of 10 such students who can take part through the Diploma Completion Program. While adults in the program are able to take their courses at home, the students are required to come into the center — which beginning this year will be in the former Centennial School, 2145 La. — to do their work.

“The flexibility part is they don’t have to be here at 8 o’clock in the morning and stay till 3,” she said. “They just need to get 20 hours a week in. They can come at noon and stay till 8 o’clock at night if they want to.”

Specific plans for the in-school options at Free State and Lawrence High are still being formed. Counselors at the schools have been involved in determining who may enroll in such a system through the Diploma Completion Program, and will be expected to fill that same role for the in-school offerings.


jayhawklawrence 4 years, 5 months ago

This is a great decision.

Even in a time of increased financial stress on our educational system, not to mention stress on our teachers, we need to stayed focused on constantly improving our ability to educate our young people.

The worst thing you can do for a young person is to assign them to low expectations and a label that is not justified. Children will tend to live up to your expectations so we need to give them the opportunity to fulfill their God given talents, not limit them artificially.

Many of our greatest minds and most gifted individuals simply do not fit the standard mold of our educational system. If you promote a cookie cutter system you will eventually end up with mediocrity rather than excellence.

nathan_bs 4 years, 5 months ago

A few questions I would ask are:

Are all students going to have an opportunity to take online classes (or just the ones dropping out)?

Is this software expected to stand alone, or will there be staff hired to facilitate the online classes?

Also, why did they decide to spend $70,000 on 100 licenses before field testing it? Isn't that putting the cart before the horse?

Jeremiah Jefferson 4 years, 5 months ago

Surely they don't expect anything good to come of this. Having taken online classes before, I can honestly say that aren't designed for people who lack the motivation or will to go to school in the first place. They require students to read and to complete the work on their own free time, something no self respecting high school drop out is going to take time to do. They have people to see, places to go, booze to drink and so forth. They already know it all, thats why they choose the path they choose. I thought about dropping out once. That last about 5 minutes, long enough to get the crap beat out of me for having such a ridiculus thought. Naturally some people just aint cut out for school, and thats ok. We need people like that to work concrete, flip burgers, pick up the trash and so on.

Dan Eyler 4 years, 5 months ago

This is outstanding. I agree that all students should have access. My son was one of those students who excelled in math, English, science but hated school. If it was not for virtual school in his final semester he would have dropped out. Many of my adult friends have taken courses on line and finished degrees. We need now to drop the cost of online courses. When we get creative our students will excel. But the cost of education has to become affordable, reasonable.

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