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Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 1, 2007

Keith schools to participate in statewide classroom connection program

By Tammy Leytham

The Selma Times-Journal

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ORRVILLE &045; Students at Keith High School and Middle School will soon have access to greater educational opportunities thanks to a statewide program.

Keith, along with Wilcox Central High School in Wilcox County and Central High School in Lowndes County are among 100 sites to use the Alabama Connecting Classrooms, Educators & Students Statewide technology to grow and expand classes offered by rural schools.

ACCESS links Alabama classrooms from Albertville High School in north Alabama to Washington County’s Leroy High School in south Alabama. Each of the new sites receives $85,000, a total of $8.5 million out of the $20.3 million state appropriation for ACCESS in fiscal year 2008.

Dallas County High School has already implemented the ACCESS program.

&8220;ACCESS provides academic resources that will help bridge the achievement gap between our district and less impoverished districts,&8221; McKenzie said.

&8220;The ACCESS service delivery model has helped educators become more creative and innovative in the delivery of quality curricula.&8221;

Maxine Sturdivant, facilitator for the ACCESS program at Keith High, said that through the program, the school is able to offer classes in Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, Latin, creative writing and psychology.

Recently featured in the national technology education magazine Converge, ACCESS is Alabama’s statewide distance learning initiative that uses integrated technology and allows high schools to help other high schools by offering advanced level courses and electives that might not otherwise be available. Gov. Bob Riley announced ACCESS in his 2005 State of the State and 24 pilot sites started classes in January 2006. ACCESS funding for fiscal year 2008 is $20.3 million, with $8.5 million going to the 100 new sites.

&8220;Our ACCESS distance learning program is expanding at an incredible pace, and it is offering students world-class opportunities to learn. It levels the playing field so students throughout the state have more chances to take advanced coursework, regardless of where they go to school,&8221; Riley said.

ACCESS Distance Learning links Alabama students with quality instruction and coursework by blending:

& Web-based and interactive videoconferencing (IVC) courses taught by Alabama certified and highly qualified teachers

& A technical infrastructure to deliver approved Web-based courses and connect IVC labs via a statewide network

& Three regional support centers to hire, train, evaluate, and support E-teachers

& Statewide coordination, scheduling, and support for distance learning