|Letter issued to parents of high school students
|Posted: Friday, August 12, 2011 12:02 pm
|Parents of Westview and Dresden high school students might find the letter recently mailed out to them by the Weakley County school system a bit difficult to decipher. According to Weakley County’s director of federal projects Doug Braden, the letter when broken down, is only allowing two more services for high school students than what was allotted to them in years past.
Braden said students in Weakley County have always had the option to attend school in any city of their choosing within the county regardless of their location. To partner with that option, a change this year might allow for those students who transfer to the two remaining schools not on high priority lists a free ride by the school system
As mandated by the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act, graduation rates have placed Westview High School and Dresden High School on high priority, Title I lists. Parents of those students received a letter signed by Weakley County Director of Schools Randy Frazier explaining because of the high priority category, students wishing to transfer to the other two high schools – Gleason and Greenfield not on a priority list can do so and transportation would be provided if logistics allow.
While the letter may appear offensive at first glance to parents and students currently enrolled at Dresden and Westview High School, Braden explained each school system across the nation with high-priority schools, received a template and school officials were told to plug in numbers relating to their district.
“The administrators have known this was coming and we have done our best to try and prepare for it,” Braden admitted. When asked why is was so late in being issued when registration took place last week and the first day of classes was held Monday, Braden said the school systems had to wait for the state board of education to certify the information, which it did – last week.
“The law says it must be done 14 days before school starts. Now that our students are already enrolled in their schools and began classes, they still have the option to transfer to one of the other high schools, if they choose,” Braden said.
While Greenfield School was placed on the target list in the spring, it is not yet a Title I high-priority school. Braden explained there are two indicators that are used when determining high priority status. One area is academics with an emphasis in math and English. The other area includes graduation rates and those numbers are what landed Westview and Dresden high schools on the high priority list.
Braden said the graduation numbers stem from as far back as 2009 and a graduation rate must remain at 90 percent or above to stay in good standing. Once a school’s graduation rate falls below 90 percent for two consecutive years, it becomes a high priority school.
Braden said there are many factors that determine graduation rate.
Graduation rates are classified by the number of students enrolled in four-year high schools and remain in school for four years upon graduation.
Students who transfer from one school to another are classified the same as students who have dropped out of that particular high school. Students who opt to transfer to an alternative school and pass a GED exam are also classified as such that graduation rates are affected at a particular school. Students who fail a year of school while in high school also fall into that classification, thus affecting graduation rates as federally mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act.
According to the recent letter issued to parents of high school students at Dresden and Westview, the district will provide or pay for transportation to and from a child’s choice school as the school being transferred from remains a high-priority school.
The child will be allowed to remain at the choice school until he/she completes the highest grade.
If funds are not available for all students to be transported, priority for first choice will be given to lowest achieving students from low-income families.
If requests for choice schools exceed that school’s capacity, priority for first choice will be given to lowest achieving students from low-income families.
In response to the high priority status earlier this year, Braden said the school system has been proactive and filled a variety of positions from graduation coach to staff developers to focus on improving graduation rates.
Of course, Braden shared, if a mass exodus occurs from the two high priority high schools, limitations will have to be addressed at Gleason and Greenfield schools.
Logistically, the schools must be able to receive more children based on teacher-student ratio as well as classroom size.
Parents and students wishing to make a change must fill out an attached application and return it to the Weakley County Department of Education by noon on Aug. 19.
“Westview and Dresden high schools are working hard with the state and district to increase the student graduation rate by adding additional opportunities for credit recovery. We encourage you to help by being involved daily in your child’s education and encouraging him/her to graduate on time,” the letter reads.
After Aug. 19, Braden said administrators will know more regarding the number of students requesting a transfer and what steps must be taken from that point.