Houston Independent School District (HISD) Superintendent Dr. Terry Grier is making innovation his tool of choice to stem the tide of drop-outs in the schools he oversees.
This new weapon is loosely termed a credit recovery tool, and it’s a program Dr. Grier has implemented with success before. The program consists of two parts; a graduation coach, a contracted teacher who serves as a counselor/overseer, and a piece of software designed to not only evaluate a student’s skill level in subjects the student is falling behind in, but also plot a course for them to catch up to their peers. The software itself consists of short, often interactive lessons, including videos, which culminate in a computer generated, teacher administrated test. The reason this is allowing students in danger of not graduating to catch up is simple. The software cuts the time it takes for a semester of coursework in a conventional classroom in half. By eliminating the distractions inherent in the classroom setting, the software allows the student to focus on the material. Additionally, students who are involved in the program have cited the fact that it removes the stress of dealing with a teacher they may not like as a measure of its success on a personal level, as it reduces disciplinary issues.
In San Diego, Dr. Grier implemented a similar program, to seemingly great success. According to figures released by the San Diego Unified School District, their overall drop-out rate was cut in half, which many attributed to the credit recovery programs’ district-wide implementation. But opponents worry that this program, and others like it, are not preparing these newly minted graduates sufficiently. Another concern voiced by opponents is that of overuse. Some people, teachers included, have spoken out about the program, saying that excessive use of such programs may inflate the rate of graduation, but may not truly educate the students in question.
See More Information: www.houstonpress.com/2009-12-31/news/computer-driven/1