postheadericon Lansing School Addressing Graduation Challenges

school_lockerblueLansing High School Principal Eric Hartz told the Board Of Education Monday what his staff is doing to address a growing number of factors preventing some students from graduating on time, or at all.  Hartz said that improved student tracking is helping to identify students in need of extra help.

"We want to get students where they need to be and out in four years, on time," Hartz said.  "We are trying to make them college and career ready, and there are challenges along the way."

In 2009 the school had a 100% graduation rate.  By 2010 it was down to 85%.  Of 127 seniors 1% earned an IEP Diploma, 5% remained enrolled, 2% transferred to GED prep programs, and 7% dropped out.

By comparison Lansing still ranked high, but school officials are concerned about factors impeding students from graduating on time.  Across New York State the average graduation rate in 2010 was 73.4% and in Tompkins County it was was 80%.

Hartz noted that changes in special education have presented challenges for some students.  He said that the current 11th and 12th graders are the last to come through high school with the safety net of RCTs (Regents Competency Tests).  The local diploma is being phased out by the New York State Regents.

"Things are changing and making it tougher for students to be successful in high school," Hartz said.  "We are working hard to make sure that all students are successful, those at the top who will excel and go on, and those in the middle trying to figure out how to get better at what they are doing, and some students that really struggle.  We're trying to make sure we're doing the right things."

Hartz said the Deficiency and Restricted Lists are a good tool for identifying students who are failing one or more classes.   He says that data entry in 'School Tool' helps identify students and provides data he shares with his staff to keep track of students who get after-school help.  These students are required to get this help if they want to participate in extra-curricular activities, including athletics.

Some progress has been made.  The number of students on the Restricted list this year ad gone down by 2/3.

"I would like it to be zero," Hartz said.  "Right now there are only five seniors out of 86 on that list.  Last year there were 15."

Hartz said health issues are among the factors that get students into trouble academically.  He noted that there have been 12 concussions among students this year alone.  He said that when parents are ill it also affects student achievement levels.

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