By RJ Walters / For the Jackson Citizen Patriot
Prep coursework for college admissions testing will be part of the regular curriculum for Albion High School juniors starting next school year.
The move comes as the district tries to find strategies to increase its Adequate Yearly Progress to stay eligible for Title I funding.
By a 5-1 vote Thursday of the Albion School Board, the high school will provide juniors ACT prep instruction every school day until spring, when the focus will change to résumé building and career-exploration activities.
Administrative assistant Willie Lewis said it is not yet determined whether the high school will divide juniors’ schedules into seven class periods instead of the standard six, or if the coursework will take place immediately after school.
Lewis said the program will cost the district less than $500 for the Kaplan instructional material and books.
The average composite ACT scores of Albion students in spring 2009 was 16.2, compared to the state average of 19.0, according to the Michigan Department of Education.
ACT scores figure into the district’s Michigan Merit Examination scores, which were significantly below state averages in all six core subject areas in 2009.
Dan Skean, who was elected Thursday as school board president for 2010-11, said something needs to be done to increase the district’s achievement quickly.
“I don’t think this is a long-term fix, I think it is a short-term focus that we can try to see if we can at least demonstrate to the students the urgency and necessity of succeeding on these tests,” he said. “Not just with respect to our standing as a school district, but for their lives. Plus $500 is pretty cheap.”
Students will attend a class on one of the four core ACT subject areas Monday through Thursday, and evaluative tests will be taken each Friday.
High school math teacher Marty Trautman said the school will use a service called Data Director to constantly revise its prep course instruction based on the testing strengths and weaknesses of the students.
Board member Ruth Valdes voted against the resolution, saying she thought there were better ways to raise achievement than simply “teaching to the test.”
“Shouldn’t we already be teaching what the kids will see on this test in our regular classes?” she said.