The Lawrence school board will hear a progress update Monday night on a program aimed at helping middle-of-the-road students fulfill their hopes of succeeding in college.
The board meets at 7 p.m. Monday at the district office, 110 McDonald Drive.
In April last year, the board approved joining a national program called Advancement Via Individual Determination, or AVID. Offered as an elective course at both Lawrence High School and Free State High School, it provides tutoring in advanced courses and other kinds of support for students who aspire for a college education but who have certain risk factors that might prevent them from succeeding.
Leah Wisdom, who coordinates the program for the district, said the program targets students who are earning average to below-average grades. Many of them, she said, would be the first generation in their families to attend college. Some are also from lower-income families or non-English-speaking backgrounds.
According to information on the AVID website, the program is currently used in more than 4,800 sites in the United States, Canada, Australia and in schools operated around the world by the U.S. Department of Defense.
In other business, the board will consider approving a request for about $26,000 to purchase and field-test a new digital-only English language arts program from McGraw-Hill for K-5 students at Kennedy School.
For the past three years, Kennedy has had the lowest average scores on state reading assessments of the district's 14 elementary schools. In 2012, only about 73 percent of its students scored at the "meets standards" level or higher. According to state data, about 72 percent of the school's students are economically disadvantaged.
Over the past two years, the school has seen declining reading scores overall, as well as a widening achievement gap for lower-income students.
From 2011 to 2012, according to the state's Building Report Card, the number of third grade students overall at Kennedy who scored below the "meets standards" level grew to 29 percent from 25 percent. At the same time, the percentage of economically disadvantaged third graders scoring below standards in reading grew to 34.5 percent from 26.1 percent.
District officials say the school has tried several programs to improve student achievement, including resources provided through the federal government's Reading First and Title I programs. Those, however, have shown only limited success.
Officials are proposing to field test the McGraw-Hill digital program beginning in the Winter 2013 semester through May 2015.