Saturday School may take place of summer school in Selma

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 16, 2008

The Selma Times-Journal

No more summer school soon for Selma sixth- to 12th-graders.

Beginning this fall, the credit recovery program will take summer school&8217;s place. It allows students to return to their grade levels quickly by taking the segment of the course they failed, instead of repeating the entire course.

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The Selma City School Board recently accepted the proposal from interim schools Superintendent Dr. Verdell Lett-Dawson to institute the year-round program. But school officials have to iron out a few details.

&8220;If they fail one course a year, then we will give them that course a second time at no cost, but if they fail more than one class within a school year, then they will have to go to the Saturday school,&8221; said Dawson.

Credit recovery is part of the state Department of Education&8217;s First Choice Program, which encourages academic achievement by requiring students to take advanced classes.

During Saturday school, students will work through their weaknesses in subjects on the Internet. A teacher will supervise the class and answer questions.

Through the Internet classes, a student is pre-tested, taught and re-tested. After the student masters the standards for the class, he or she may return to the regular classroom.

Schools may institute this method of teaching because students don&8217;t have to fill seats a certain number of hours in a classroom to earn credit for their courses, Lett-Dawson explained.

&8220;Now, the emphasis is on the standard,&8221; she said.

&8220;The expectation is the students will master those standards, and then once they&8217;ve mastered those standards, then they can pass the course.&8221;

The program keeps students on grade levels, helps alleviate overcrowded classrooms and encourages students to pass courses.

The proposed hours for Saturday School are 9 a.m. until noon.

Lett-Dawson&8217;s proposal calls for a $90 fee for Saturday School, the same amount charged for summer school.

But some school board members, including President Barbara Hiouas, have raised concerns about the ability of low-income parents to pay the fees.

Census data provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development shows an estimated 25 percent of the people living in Selma live at the poverty level. The national poverty level estimated in 2004, the latest year available from the U.S. Census, shows the mark at $13,020 annually for a single adult and one child or $15,205 annually for two adults and a child.

Among the alternatives discussed, a scholarship for students whose parents or guardians couldn&8217;t afford the fee

But the convenience of a Saturday school would suit Jasmine Knox just fine. She&8217;s one of 160 students registered in summer school from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday.