New Tactics to Recover Dropouts

The Houston Independent School District will seek approval for a charter school designed for dropout students. As Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson reports, the dropout recovery center would target students who are likely to leave high school before graduating.

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HISD's school board will vote next week on the district's proposal for a new charter school. HISD's Director of the Alternative Charter Department Nancy Manley says they're taking a non-traditional approach to reach at-risk students.

"The dropout process really usually takes a period of one to two years before the student actually drops out. So we will focus on those students who are really behind in credits. You know, and students just start giving up is what happens. So we're hoping that we can capture those students as well as the ones who have already dropped out."

The charter school will be housed at a facility owned by Windsor Village United Methodist Church. The church approached the district about offering land and building space for such an effort. Deborah Singleton is the manager for the district's alternative charter schools. She says one of the first steps for new students will be to assess what is causing them to want to drop out in the first place.

"Some students don't want a full day, they might want to go half a day. Some may not want to go in the morning, but come in the afternoon. They want to have flexible hours that will fit their particular need. They're going to do a distance learning type program where the students will have online instruction. And then following a couple hours of online, they will be able to go to a classroom and work with individual teachers on homework assignments."

Technology will be a significant factor in the Dropout Recovery Center. Another aspect will be community and social services aimed at helping students with everything from family counseling to job placement. And Singleton says it'll all happen on the student's individual schedule.

"This way they can work at their own pace. They're not in competition with other students in the classroom, they're going to be working at their own pace to complete certain objectives. And once they do, then they can move on to the next course if necessary. They can quickly move through the grade to try to catch up and then finish school."

If the school board approves the plan, which it is likely to do, the school will open at a temporary location in August. It will eventually be housed at the Windsor Village's Kingdom Builder's Center at the corner of South Post Oak and West Orem. Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News.

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