2012 SCORE Prize Winners: Embracing High Standards - Page 6

In addition, two middle school teachers and three high school teachers participated in Project Lead the Way, a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education initiative that is designed to engage students and motivate them to pursue advanced coursework in STEM-related fields. Some of the Project Lead the Way students have been able to participate in the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Cadnet program where they use AutoCad software to develop skills as draftsmen. The district also has a partnership with Alcoa Howmet, a local business, to provide two internships to students in each high school each year. Interventions. Hamblen County Schools tracks the success of every student. If a student starts to fall behind, he or she is immediately diagnosed and provided with interventions tailored to meet individual needs. To pinpoint specific areas for remediation, the district administers a variety of diagnostic assessments. Renaissance Learning’s STAR Reading Program, Discovery Assessment, and DIBELS are used to identify literacy needs. The district uses software programs to address these needs early to prevent serious problems from developing. Tutoring is also available in most of the schools. In addition, the district has developed a number of initiatives to address common challenges that have arisen over the years. The high school initiatives include: • Freshman academies. In high school, all ninth grade students enroll in a freshman academy, which is a smaller learning community. Students are placed into classes based on their ACT EXPLORE scores, seventh grade TCAP scores, and teacher recommendations. In addition, many high school students take a year-long algebra class and a year-long math lab. Typically the math lab instructor will pre-teach a concept or provide remediation for any area in which students have not mastered algebra content. The math lab is meant to provide small victories for students and help them to persist with what is often considered a very difficult gateway course. • The freshman Skills for Success (fSS) course. This course is provided to students who need additional support to make a successful transition to high school. Students in this course spend more time with reading through the core curriculum, time management, study skills, and organizational skills to help them become better prepared for the rigors of English. Typically this course is taken either before or simultaneously with English I. • Graduation coaches. The d istrict has hired six graduation coaches to work in its elementary, middle, and high schools. Graduation coaches work with any student who is off-track for high school graduation. For exa mple, if a kindergarten student misses a large number of days, graduation coaches will work with families to ensure that they get the student to school on time every day. Graduation coaches typically conduct home visits, visit students at school, form relationships with the students, and work with their students’ teachers to help them succeed. • Credit recovery. Hamblen County Schools offers several credit recovery programs for both middle and high school students who have failed a class but have met the seat time requirement for credit. These students enter into a contract with the district, are pre-tested, and then complete all components of a class that have not been mastered. Using the Plato software program, they are allowed 45 hours to complete the course an