As August, the last of the summer months, arrives, Winona Area Public Schools (WAPS) educators begin the task of preparing to meet the needs of all students as well as figuring out ways to help those who need extra help. WAPS administrators and teachers continue to focus on what can be done to assist these students, who for a variety of reasons may be struggling academically, and ultimately help them succeed.
For the first time, in the 2014 spring semester WAPS offered three credit recovery courses at Winona Senior High School (WSHS), in math, science and English. This is in contrast to past semesters, where credit recovery had been done strictly through the Alternative Learning Center (ALC). “We did a pilot this year for credit recovery using Apex Learning, which is an online curriculum system,” explained Kelly Halvorsen, the new WAPS director of teaching and learning.
Halvorsen said that the difference between the credit recovery at WSHS and the credit recovery at the ALC is that the WSHS credit recovery is done as part of a student’s schedule during the school day. In contrast, the ALC credit recovery is done after regular school hours. The credit recovery at WSHS makes it easier for students who have an available period in their schedule to take a recovery course during their time at school, rather than having to do so after school at the ALC.
During the past spring alone, 19 students were enrolled in the math recovery course, four students were enrolled in the English recovery course and one student was enrolled in the science recovery course. In total, 28 credits were recovered from all of the students enrolled in the courses. “A few students were able to recover more than one credit,” Halvorsen noted.
As for the instructors who teach the recovery courses at WSHS, they are not additional hires for the sole purpose of teaching the recovery courses, explained Halvorsen. “The science and math teachers have been with the district for quite a while,” she said. “The English teacher was a new hire, but she wasn’t hired just [to teach the credit recovery course].”
Because the curriculum content is online through Apex Learning, students work on a computer while teachers are available for questions and additional help. Students are divided by subject area and are then able to work on the class they previously failed. Teachers working with students to recover credits either have a period free or are using their prep time to be available for students. “It’s really just teachers wanting kids to succeed and wanting to do whatever they can to help them recover [credits] and stay at the high school,” Halvorsen said.
Although the ALC is still the main place for WAPS students to recover credits, through the new credit recovery option at WSHS, WAPS staff hope to help as many students as possible who are able to work the recovery courses into their school schedule. “We do whatever we can to help the kids,” Halvorsen said. “If they need something, we’ll try to do what it is they need to help them.”