May 12, 2017
Reasons why some students get out of sync to graduate from high school with their peers are as individual as the students themselves.
Some have struggled academically in one or more subjects; some have personal reasons why they have to repeat a grade; some pass their required subjects but grapple with passing state tests required for graduation; others wrestle with attendance.
But they have one thing in common: they really want to graduate with the same group they started kindergarten with, known as their cohort.
Under the direction of Chief Academic Officer Sunny Chancy and the support of Superintendent Bobby Pearce, Wakulla County School District has established a voluntary program called “Impact”. The goal of the “Impact” program is to keep students on pace in grades 6 through 12, even if it was repeating an elementary school grade that made them out of sync with their cohort.
States Chancy, “This is a voluntary program for students who are grade point average or credit deficient towards graduating on time. It is a grade 6 through 12 initiative. Student cases are reviewed to see who is willing to put enough work in to benefit from this program. Overall, “Impact” is aimed towards students who are struggling academically and need a smaller environment to gain ground.”
Located in Crawfordville at the School Board District Office site, “Impact” is not held at a traditional school so that students can concentrate on catching up without other distractions. Transportation is provided.
“Impact” is one of a few alternative programs that are located there, such as the district’s virtual school. All these programs fall under The Wakulla Institute school title. James Vernon is currently Dean of Student Services at The Wakulla Institute.
Initiating the “Impact” program this year was a team effort from the school district’s staff. Chancy led the Instructional Services Department in creating a curriculum to keep students on track that combines small group work, virtual computerized classes, and the intensive academic interventions that face-to-face teachers provide.
The Florida Standards are taught, as well as ACT (American College Test) and SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) strategies. Sometimes a student does better on the national tests of ACT or SAT than on state mandated tests. High enough ACT or SAT scores can count for state test graduation requirements in reading/language arts and math.
College and Career Prep materials are also included in the “Impact” curriculum so that the goal is not solely graduating from high school, but also planning for the next step after earning a diploma.
Also collaborating to initiate the “Impact” program are Information Technology, Facilities, Finance, Assessment, Exceptional Student Education, and Human Resources district departments.
Says Superintendent Pearce, “Our goal is to intervene early enough so that students can merge back to their zoned schools for continued promotion to the next grade level. We see it as a chance to mitigate any disruptions in their progress towards on-time graduation. When students feel like they have hope of catching up, it usually inspires them to work harder. Our job is to give them the tools to realize that dream.”