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Published: Wednesday, 7/12/2006

New plan offers after-school help

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

When students at Northwood Middle School do not have homework completed as assigned, they won't necessarily have to settle for a poor grade.

Starting in September, those students will get a second chance to finish the missing or unacceptable homework assignments as part of the Ranger Assistance Program, known as RAP.

At their last meeting, members of the Northwood Local Board of Education decided to start the pilot program that will give additional academic assistance from 2:25 p.m. to 3:10 p.m. daily from Sept. 5 to May 18. Board member Mike Melnyk was absent.

"We're being proactive, rather than reactive," school board President Scott Phelps said.

"It's to give kids who are struggling another avenue to help them improve their grades and get their assignments in on time. It's a real good feeling that we can play offense and not play defense."

Board Vice President Denise Niese agreed and said the program will especially benefit students in sixth through eighth grades by giving them some extra structure.

"They're leaving the security of elementary school, and this is just to help them through the transitional phase in their school career," she said.

RAP is modeled after a similar program that the school started a few years ago with grant funding, Principal Amy Klinger said. She said that program worked so well that she felt it would benefit students to offer a comparable one.

The program will be offered for any student who does not have a homework assignment completed as assigned.

Those students will have the option to either complete the homework with assistance for partial credit by staying after school that day for RAP or accept a zero for the assignment.

Assignments completed in RAP will not count as missing assignments.

To stay after school, a student would first need to have permission from a parent.

"I think anything that we can do to tie the parents and the kids and the teachers as a team to a common goal is going to work," Mrs. Niese said. "I look at it as strengthening the relationship between the school and the parents."

Ms. Klinger said there are about 10 to 15 kids in each of the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades who would benefit from after-school tutoring on a consistent basis.

"If we can put something in place that will help those kids, we're going to do it," she said.

Other students could benefit from the program if they go home and just don't understand the homework enough to complete it.

Or if they choose, students can elect to stay after school the day they are assigned homework they don't understand for extra tutoring, Ms. Klinger said.

RAP will be offered every day after school with a rotating teacher responsible for the class each day.

The program will not be offered on 17 days throughout the school year, such as the days leading up to Christmas break or days before holidays.

Mrs. Niese said the board will revisit the program at the end of the first semester and at the end of the school year to assess the benefit for students, and to see if it is widely accepted by parents.

"We deliberately chose to do it as a pilot so we can see how the program is going," Ms. Klinger added, "so we can change it as we need to to make it more effective.


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