Board seeks academic advantage for SHS

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Selma Times-Journal

All ninth-graders at Selma High School will be required to speak in a foreign tongue in the future.

For the 2008-09 school term, all incoming ninth-graders may be enrolled in algebra II with trigonometry and a Spanish or French class, pending approval from the state board of education.

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This move is a result of the state-mandated First Choice plan, also called the Advanced Academic Endorsement plan.

The students will still be required to have 24 credits to graduate. Algebra II with trigonometry must be part of the required four math credits, and two of the required 5 1/2 elective credits have to include foreign language.

The state mandate takes effect in 2009, but local school systems can begin the plan in the 2008-09 school term by requesting approval from the state department of education. The Selma City School Board unanimously agreed during its last meeting Thursday to allow interim superintendent Dr. Verdell Lett-Dawson to apply for permission for Selma High to participate this year.

School board member Debra Reeves-Howard called the idea to give Selma High&8217;s students a head start &8220;an excellent idea.&8221; However, she expressed concern that some students may not do well under the new plan.

Under the plan, students must complete their ninth-grade year before they can opt out of the program.

Should a student be unsuccessful under First Choice, the parents will have to write a letter to the school requesting their child be put on the standard diploma plan.

Tenth and 11th-graders will also have the option to participate in the plan, but will need to meet with their school counselor to make sure that they will be able to meet the requirements before graduation.

If the board&8217;s request is approved by the state, Dawson said orientations would be held for parents and students to explain the plan and what will be expected of the students.

School officials are expecting the plan to produce students who are better prepared not only for college, but for the workforce.

Clifford Hunter, interim coordinator at Selma CareerLink works with employers daily. He said local employers are looking for employees with basic reading and writing skills and work readiness components. That includes the ability to complete an application and write a resume. Having advanced skills gives potential employees leverage in the job market, especially in cities with a larger workforce.