JCPS implementing 'transition centers' to help struggling studen - WDRB 41 Louisville News

JCPS implementing 'transition centers' to help struggling students

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It's a school within a school, designed to help Louisville students who need it the most: students like Dalton Craig.

Craig didn't come into Valley High School on the best track.

"[I] wasn't doing all my testing," Craig said. "I'd skip school."

He had a 1.6 GPA, truancy and suspensions all staining his permanent record.

"It was just that feeling that no one wanted to put the effort into me," Craig said. "Like they did every other kid, made me feel that well I'm not that important. She was willing to put the effort in."

"She" is Michelle Duvall. Duvall runs Valley's Freshman Transition program.

She spends the day with struggling students who have come back from long-term suspensions, truancy, medical leave or any other issues taking them from the class.

"I will work with them to obtain the information," she said. "Where they are academically? Socially? Emotionally? ...Determine what type of services they need to get them ready to go back in a regular classroom."

"Is it an emotional issue? Do they need anger management? Do they need stress techniques?" Duvall asked.

For his part, Craig is thankful for her help.

"I was never good in math," Craig explained.

JCPS is implementing a program very similar to Valley's throughout the entire district, building transition centers in every middle school and every high school.

"Just putting kids back who have missed a lot doesn't set them up for success," said JCPS superintendent Donna Hargens.

The district will hire 46 new teachers specifically for these transitions centers and another 13 instructional coaches. The students will work with online credit recovery programs.

For JCPS, the $4.5 million investment addresses a recent state audit that criticized the district for spending too much on administrators and not enough on student programs in the classroom.

Leaders hope to quiet some of the critics and build more success stories like Dalton Craig's.

"I've got two awards," Craig said. "Since being in her program, my attendance has been good. I raised my GPA from a 1.6 to a 2.4...finally get my stuff straight."

Transition centers may also help as Kentucky raises the drop out age to 18.

School districts are looking for more solutions to reach struggling students who can longer be written off the role sheets before their low test scores bring down school averages.

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