AHS to implement eBLOCK program

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, May 23, 2012

It’s been said that if someone is going down the wrong road, he doesn’t need motivation to speed him up, but he needs an education to turn him around.

That’s exactly the method Andalusia High School administrators and teachers hope to take this fall.

AHS faculty and staff have taken a look at data to see what areas need to be addressed to make a better learning environment for their students, officials said Mo-nday night.

Th-eir proposal is a 45-minute eBLOCK that focuses on creating the right environment to engage learning, helps retain students who struggle, and helps those who don’t have an opportunity to explore more options, work on college entrance exams, scholarships and college research.

“We have a lot of great students, but we have kids who are unmotivated,” AHS principal Dr. Daniel Shakespeare said. “Some just don’t want to learn, while others find it difficult to learn. Once you drop out, you are a burden to society.”

Shakespeare referenced a football player, whom he pulled off the field to have a tutor work with him on factoring.

“The tutor asked him how many times two would go into 40,” he said. “I expected a number to pop out. He struggled for a moment, then pulled out a blue calculator and punched the numbers in.”

Shakespeare said for students like this, football or their chosen extracurricular is all that is keeping them on campus.

“We’re not in a win-win situation,” he said. “We’ve tried many band aids. (State School Superintendent) Dr. (Tommy) Bice talked about this schedule in 2009, and I walked out laughing; but since then, I’ve had a paradigm shift. We have to do something to meet the needs of those who are the exact opposite of our valedictorian and salutatorian.”

Through eBLOCK, Donna Cauley, AHS guidance counselor, said all students would participate and they will rotate every four and half weeks to a new class.

Students will have opportunities to learn more about scholarships, careers, schools and college entrance exams along with other sessions, Cauley said.

“Those who need remediation will be placed in that, and they will not have an option,” she said. “Those who need individualized help in classes will receive that.”

Cauley said administrators have tried nearly every means possible, including tutoring after school.

“During the fall semester, we have 310 students who are tied up in some form of extra curricular activity,” she said. “We don’t want to pull them from the things they love, and a lot of kids need to work after school.”

The class period will be from 11:05 until 11:50, and classes will also include a Freshman Forum.

Dr. Shakespeare said the eBLOCK will also be used for assemblies, pep rallies and homecoming skit practice, so that no instruction time is lost.

Administrators visited Foley High School, which has implemented a similar program. Additionally, four other schools in Baldwin County participate in the program, and Enterprise High School has a program.

The classes will not be graded, but there will be structure to meet “real life needs,” “learn for fun for a purpose,” and students must be in attendance and may not leave, cannot sleep, but can study, participate or observe during the time period.

“In doing this, there is someone they will make a connection with,” Cauley said. “We strongly hope that it will decrease the drop out rate.”

Andalusia High School missed AYP last year because its graduation rate fell from 85 percent to 76 percent. It wasn’t the only high school in the county to not meet AYP for its graduation rate. Opp High School also missed AYP.

To make AYP, high schools must have a minimum of 90 percent graduation rate or improve on the previous year’s rate.

AHS had an 82 percent graduation rate in 2007-08, but the rate fell to 79 percent in 2008-08, causing to make AYP. The graduation rate improved to 85 percent for the 2009-2010 school year, but fell to the 76 percent for the 2010-2011 school year. AYP results are normally released in early August.