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NEW WASHINGTON, Ind. (WDRB) -- For some students in the Greater Clark School District, it's either hit the books during fall break or risk failing. There's a new program to help struggling students, but it means giving up some free time.
While most students in the Greater Clark School District are enjoying a fall break, some are back in the classroom this week.
It's the last thing Alyssa Farmer thought she would be doing during her fall break. The 11th grader is sitting in class, reading a novel. "I thought it would be good for me because I need the extra help on my English," she said.
Alyssa is one of some 1,200 students in the Greater Clark School District taking part in what's called the Intersession course. Students who have tested low in basic math or reading skills are getting intensive help at a time when they would normally be at home.
"Is it mandatory that they attend? It's not mandatory. But by not attending, our students are risking either being retained the following school year in the same grade level, or not graduating," said Andrew Melin, Greater Clark Superintendent.
It's also not mandatory for teachers. Like Stephanie Wilson, they have all signed up for the extra work. "I thought it was very important for these kids to have this opportunity to continue reading," said Wilson.
The Intersession classes run for a half-day, five days a week, for one week, and include breakfast, lunch, and transportation. The classes are capped at 15 students.
"How much can you accomplish in five half-days of instruction? Well, we've found, in the past, with other interventions that we've done, that 20 hours of intense intervention, focused on specific skills will be enough for us to make a difference," said Melin.
Parents we talked to say they're all for it. "He was struggling a little bit in some subjects, and he wasn't upset about having to come or anything. He was real excited about it," said Amy Risner.
"I just want to give him an extra little push to keep him interested," said Shahonna Tucker.
The students will be tested at the end of the week to see how much they've progressed. "This is not a punishment. This is not a penalty. We're here to help our kids become better and achieve at higher levels," said Melin.
Despite some transportation glitches, officials here say the first day of Intersession has gone well. But it may be months, even years, before the real results are known.