Credit recovery ideas on table

To help some off-track high school students graduate on time, a group of Columbia County educators recently brainstormed some credit recovery ideas.

A primary component of the proposal developed by the 25-member committee is a "zero period" at all of the county's high schools. The period would start before first period and could include classes designed to help students behind on credits.

"If a student fails a history class, which they need for graduation, they could take their normal first through sixth periods in the second semester, but come in an hour earlier in the day to take that additional make-up course," said Rose Carraway, the system's director of high school student learning.

Greenbrier and Lakeside high schools offer zero periods, but those students leave at the end of fifth period. The class is meant to reduce the traffic entering and exiting the schools at the same time.

"It very easily could be adopted to allow for remediation," Dr. Carraway said.

A more difficult challenge might be finding a way to offer zero period remediation courses without charging students who wish to take them, said Dorcas Powell, Lakeside High graduation coach.

"Those teachers in zero period get off at the end of fifth period," Ms. Powell said. "But if we're going to run kids zero through sixth periods, then we have to have teachers here all seven of those periods without exceeding their contracts."

Teachers would require more pay. Andstudents would require transportation, which might necessitate extra bus routes.

"How do you do that without charging the kids?" Ms. Powell asked. "That's the thing we keep coming back to and are trying to avoid."

A fee for a zero period class for the purposes of remediation might be unavoidable. Ms. Powell likened it to summer school, which costs between $80 and $160 for classes.

"There are plenty of parents that would be willing to pay for it, but the problem is the parents who absolutely cannot afford to do it," she said.

Another method for credit recovery is what Dr. Carraway calls the 8.5 program. Retained eighth-grade pupils would have an opportunity to earn credits in elective courses such as health or computer introduction at the high-school level.

Dr. Carraway said the program will give pupils a "jump start" to recover credits.

Another possible program is aimed at "bubble kids," or pupils who are in danger of failing and getting behind on credits, Dr. Carraway said.

"What we would offer would be support courses in math, reading and writing, depending on their deficit areas, during the summer school session to sharpen those skills before entering high school," Dr. Carraway said.

None of these proposals has appeared before the school board, but Dr. Carraway is confident the suggestions will be received favorably.

"With the 23 credits needed to graduate now, kids really need some additional opportunities to earn additional credits," she said.

Reach Donnie Fetter at (706) 868-1222, ext. 115, or donnie.fetter@augustachronicle.com.