White River Alternative Programs stays steady

Despite a future of funding cuts, the White River Alternative Programs will continue with no change to its programs for the coming school year, White River School District Superintendent Tom Lockyer told the school board at its June 22 workshop.

Decisions will need to be made for the 2012-13 school year, but for now the district’s cooperative with the Enumclaw, Sumner and Orting school districts will continue its Choice, Collins High School and online learning programs as usual.

The announcement followed a year-end presentation from WRAP Principal Elaine Elliott.

Elliott reported the Choice Program enrolled 118 students in grades 3-12 and featured 12 graduates June 6.

Choice is a parent partnership program designed for homeschool families. Parents are active participants in the learning process, developing course outlines and learning plans, providing instruction, grading coursework and evaluating progress. Students attend academic classes between six and10 hours per week with the remainder of their learning activities under the direction of their parents at home, or in the community.

Students in grades 11 and 12 are encouraged to participate in Running Start at the local community colleges.

Collins High School enrolled 222 with 41 students attending the June 3 commencement exercises and another six graduating the following week. Thirty-five students were enrolled in WRAP’s online learning program.

The alternative high school is designed for students grades 9-12 and provides a smaller, more personalized educational environment. The flexible instructional format provides a challenging and motivating environment that focuses on students’ interests and strengths. Each student has an individual learning plan and attends classes Monday through Thursday with tutoring sessions available Fridays.

Elliott explained the school’s population ebbs and flows for a variety of reasons like early graduation, drug and alcohol treatment, maternity leave or a return to a students’ home school, but there continues to be a need for a place for students who need a different way to learn.

In addition to student support, Fridays provide staff with an opportunity for Professional Learning Communities or to collaborate with teachers at the district’s other schools.

The alternative learning environment also offers behavior support and intervention for students who need it, as well as opportunities to visit vocational schools and colleges. WRAP also hosts a financial aid night and Running Start information night for parents.

“I’m always proud of the district, that we take this on and help families with this,” board President Denise Vogel said. “I think it’s so great we offer these programs.

“We’re catching a segment of kids who would not be finishing school.”



District Learning Improvement Plan

The board also was updated on the District Learning Improvement Plan. Deputy Superintendent Janel Keating has been working with building staff, school leaders and a team of 40 teachers from across the district to create a comprehensive districtwide learning plan.

Keating said the goal is to have 90 percent of the students in the district at the appropriate reading and writing levels by 2013 and 75 percent of WRHS students at the state science goal by 2013.

The key, Keating said, is what the adults have to do to get the students to that goal.

The plan outlines standards and assessments for each grade level across the district.

Keating explained, when in place, what a student learns and when they learn it will not be effected by a move across town or a switch in schedule to another class in the same subject at the middle or high school level.

“This will put a student within seven to 10 days of any subject,” she said.

She noted a new teacher will be able to step into any classroom at any time and be right in step. The same scoring will be used for assessments that will all occur during the same window.

For example, sentence mastery, old-school sentence structure and punctuation, would be taught at the same grade level at the same time in all schools in the district.

“There will be no question when it’s taught,” Keating said.

Board member Mike Jansen questioned how leaders will keep all teachers on board.

In addition to playing a role in the creation of the plan, there are layers of accountability built in, she said, starting with peer teams, moving to the school level and then up to the district level, along with evaluations along the way.