Utterly Meaningless » Blog Archive » JUST SAY NO

    Filed at 10:15 am under by dcobranchi

    The DE Dept. of Education is trying to entice HEKs to sign up for a program leading to an official “State of Delaware high school diploma.” Wow! Official credentials with a State Seal and everything!

    3 Responses to “JUST SAY NO”

    Comment by
    November 26th, 2006
    at 10:25 am

    That is too weird.

    1st – the student has to meet the state school’s standards
    2nd – all the work and responsibility belongs to the homeschool family
    3rd – the State gets the credit for the work by issuing the diploma.

    Does this not add up?

    The state can accept or deny admittance, accepts no responsibility for results, yet issues a diploma because … ?

    You’d have to be whacked to accept an offer like that. Anyone with a computer and a printer can make up a diploma.

    :::shakes head and walks away because she knows some people are that dumb:::

    Comment by
    November 26th, 2006
    at 10:45 am

    I fail to see how this is NOT public school, just done at home like homework.

    Comment by
    November 28th, 2006
    at 11:38 pm

    I wonder if this diploma program for homeschoolers is something that has morphed from the afer school program for drop outs?

    Perhaps they are hoping to also lure homeschoolers to increase funding ( odd ——- because homeschoolers are classified as “non public” even if they homeschool under the superintendent) One of the biggest reasons that school districts weren’t being forced to provide this option was that the state is not allowed to spend public $ for non public & private schools based on the way our state constitution is written ??????? Sounds fishy & possible illegal to me if this school gets state funding for any homeschoolers that would enroll.

    or maybe they are just hoping to get some really bright motivated kids( homeschoolers) to off set the low school state test scores of the typical drop out students that the Groves school serves now.

    Delaware has a really high dropout rate compared to other states & is highly motivated to recapture these students.

    I find it odd that only kids that are 16 & older can apply for this program because in DE once your kid turns 16 you don’t legally need to continue to register them w/ the state as a homeschooler according to current law. So are they really homeschoolers in this program?????????????

    Why anyone legit homeschooler would want to enroll in this crappy program is beyond me when at several nearby commmunity colleges ( though not any directly in DE) are already recruiting 16 year olds to enroll in some of their Associate Degree programs. All kids need to do to get admitted is pass a college entrance math & english exam to prove they can handle the course work and interview w/ an admissions officer.

    Screw the “practice GED” entrance test & DE state diploma at 16 when my kid can already be working on a college degree.

    Daryl I had emailed you this article from the NJ in Feb 05:
    Food for thought for any Delawareans that are reading your blog.
    I couldn’t find an active link to it.
    After-hours school offers hope
    Students not suited for traditional classes can still get diploma
    By CECILIA LE / The News Journal
    There was no reason, Tiffany D’Antonio figured, to stay in high school.

    “I hated sitting in the classroom,” she said. “If I wasn’t skipping school, I was getting in arguments with other kids. Finally I said, ‘I’m just going to drop out.’ ”

    The 16-year-old’s counselor at Middletown High School told her about a program starting this year called Twilight. Students attend school in the afternoon, working at their own pace with a computer-based curriculum.

    It was her last shot. She figured she might as well try it.

    Now, she’s on schedule to graduate this year, despite a dirt-bike accident in the fall that required her to have leg surgery.

    Twilight serves about 30 students who are unable to cope in a traditional classroom setting. Some need more personal attention. Some have discipline problems. Some have a day job or a baby at home. Some have social anxiety disorder and can’t handle going to school with hundreds of others.

    Students must be two years behind grade level or in danger of not graduating to qualify.

    “We had a population of kids that was falling through the cracks,” said Rob Kelly, the program’s principal.

    Twilight also addresses another problem – the school’s ballooning growth.

    Middletown has 1,825 students in a building built for 1,600. Enrollment has grown from 1,062 six years ago. Appoquinimink plans to open a new high school in 2007, but until then, students are in portable classrooms. Some classes are held in seminar rooms.

    Students who attend school after hours alleviate the burden. Officials plan to expand the program to 100 or more students next year. The school is exploring the possibility of sending some seniors next year to Delaware Technical & Community College and Delaware State University for half days.

    Options grow

    Alternative programs like Twilight have spread as more schools recognize the traditional classroom environment doesn’t serve everyone.

    In Delaware, districts including Lake Forest and Milford also run Twilight programs.

    Increasingly, large urban school districts like those in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Newark and Trenton, N.J., are offering the option.

    “This is a second opportunity for a lot of these kids who would be lost otherwise,” said James McPartland, who studied Twilight programs in Philadelphia and is director of the Center for Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins University. “They can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s important to give these kids hope of graduating in a reasonable amount of time.”

    Little, if any, quantitative research exists on such programs because it’s difficult to set up comparison groups, he said, but students’ reports are in large part positive.

    Granted, they’re losing out on teachers’ lectures, group work and a seven-hour day interacting with peers.

    But if not for Twilight, most wouldn’t be in school at all.

    “With these students, it’s usually proven in their history that type of instruction isn’t effective for them in the first place,” said Middletown Principal Donna Mitchell.

    Active students

    The students can attend plays, dances and other school events, but can’t play sports, because teams practice in the afternoon.

    They come to school to take an elective seventh period, then complete course work from 2:30 to 5:45 p.m. The school uses an Internet-based curriculum called Novel Stars, by the Virginia-based company Educational Options, which offers a full range of classes such as Algebra II, English 12 and U.S. history.

    At their own pace, students read, take notes and complete tests. Some finish a course in as fast as two weeks. Teachers – regular and special education – are on hand to assist the students and grade tests.

    On one afternoon, some students work attentively at computer stations. Others laugh and joke with each other. One girl sits motionless with her thumb in her mouth.

    For Justin Langshaw, 18, the classes seem like elementary school work. He was placed in Twilight after he skipped school repeatedly and failed 10th- and 11th-grade English classes.

    “I hate filling in the dots,” he said, gesturing to a screen of multiple-choice questions. “I don’t get any education in here. In day school, you actually have a teacher teaching. Here, they just want you to look at this computer.”

    But it’s the only way he can graduate on time. Langshaw plans to attend community college.

    Megan Nyhus’ parents signed her out of school in ninth grade. She struggled academically, she suffered health problems, and her junior high classmates teased her.

    “The kids picked on me all the time,” she said. “They really broke me down. I had no self-confidence.”

    Nyhus, 16, basically did nothing for two years. Her parents tried home schooling, but it didn’t work out. She resigned herself to getting a GED, which she couldn’t start working toward until age 16.

    “I dwelled on it all the time. I was so sad. I thought, ‘I’m never going to have a yearbook, I’ll never have friends, I’ll never go to the prom.’ ”

    Program ‘a godsend’

    When she learned about Twilight, it was exactly what she wanted. Nyhus met with the school and started classes the same day. She has finished a year and a half of course work since October and says the one-on-one help is what she needs.

    Nyhus recently got a day job at an ice cream store and is taking driver’s education at the school. She got her class ring and will walk at graduation with her senior class.

    “It’s been a godsend,” said her mother, Diane Nyhus. “What she really wanted was to be in school like everyone else. It’s helping her get back to a more normal teenage life. I credit the administration for recognizing not all kids can fit into the traditional mold.”

    April Craij, 19, was two months from graduating last year when she had a baby in April. With no baby sitter, she dropped out. Now, she cares for her son until her mother comes home from work at 1 p.m., then goes to Twilight to finish science course work. Next year, she’ll attend a nursing school that provides day care.

    “I really wasn’t going to go back,” Craij said. “I’d probably still be sitting home now wondering how I was going to get my diploma.”

    Contact Cecilia Le