Two new Greenport programs aim to improve student performance

Greenport school administrators are hoping two new programs will help reduce dropout rates, improve student performance and keep the district in good standing when it comes to meeting state and federal requirements.

Both the Odyssey Credit Recovery program and Neighbors in Support of Immigrants will be instituted in the district this fall.

From 2003 through 2011, the district has experienced peaks and valleys in dropout rates, Superintendent Michael Comanda said at an August school board meeting. The number of students dropping out in a single year has ranged from one to 9. Eight students left school during the 2010-11 school year.

The Odyssey Credit Recovery program provides students with Internet-based lessons designed to engage them and allow them to strengthen skills at their own pace. The system helps to identify specific areas where remediation is needed, enabling students to recover credits they need to graduate without repeating an entire course. The program is aimed at both keeping students who are still in school from dropping out and giving those who’ve already left an opportunity to recover credits toward a diploma, Mr. Comanda said.

The Neighbors in Support of Immigrants program targets the dropout rate among students who have immigrated to the United States, some of whom have difficulty with studies because of language barriers. During a Greenport staff development day in November, teachers will focus on this issue and meet with NISI representatives, Mr. Comanda said.

While the district is working to keep students from dropping out, it’s also trying to provide those capable of doing advanced placement work with the opportunity to gain some college credits while still in high school.

“We know the cost of a college education,” Mr. Comanda said. If students can earn up to 18 credits by successfully completing advanced placement classes, they can save as much as a semester in costs, he said.

Long Island University is offering credits to Greenport AP students and those who achieve a 3.0 or above on a five-point scale can earn credits at SUNY colleges. But most other colleges require a 4.0 score or better to give credit, Mr. Comanda said. He is also talking with Suffolk County Community College and Syracuse University about allowing high school AP results to be counted toward college credits.

In 2011, Greenport AP students achieved average scores of 3.0 in English literature and 3.8 in U.S. government and politics, Mr. Comanda said, but their average score in biology was 2.8.

Comparing the district’s AP scores to those of students across New York State, Greenport’s were higher for every year except 2009. In that year, 66.8 percent of all New York AP students scored 3.0 or better on the tests, but only 60 percent did so in Greenport. In 2010, however, 91.3 percent of Greenport students scored a 3.0 or better on the tests, compared with 65.9 percent statewide. And in 2011, 75 percent of Greenport’s AP students earned a 3.0 or better as compared with 66 percent statewide.

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