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NEWS RELEASES 2000-01 :: AUGUST 31, 2000


You're driving down the road when you notice that your engine light is on. Do you immediately make an appointment with a repair shop to determine what the problem is, or do you decide it's probably nothing and keep driving? Chances are, you'll call a repair shop and make an appointment because you know that, if you don't, it could cost you in the long run. The same principle can be applied to a child who is struggling in school. Do you let a child continue to struggle hoping that he or she will eventually get it or do you immediately intervene and make sure that they do, thus eliminating the potential for future problems?

School systems that incorporate intervention programs experience significant gains in individual student achievement, which is why these programs are a key component of the state's new Student Accountability Standards. Intervention may occur during or after the school day, on Saturdays, during breaks in year-round schools or in summer school.

"The Student Accountability Standards provide us with a strong mechanism to identify children who need help right away so that schools can provide the intervention they need," said State Superintendent Mike Ward.

Pitt County school officials, for example, realize that the time to provide intervention to struggling students is before they have a chance to fail. Administrators and teachers developed a plan to help ensure students make the grade before promotion time arrives. This plan includes K-8 student assessments to make sure students have the minimum skills needed to be successful at the next grade level. By the fourth week of school (earlier if warranted), parents have been notified of their child's assessment results and plans for improvement if needed. Educators use the information from the assessments to develop week-by-week plans to guide as many students as possible through to the next grade level.

Wake County Public Schools will implement an Accelerated Learning Program II (ALP II) this year to increase student achievement. ALP II will provide 33 literacy specialists who will partner with Title I and other local language arts teachers to provide literacy instruction and support to every school in the system. ALP II evolved from the school system's ALP I program that was implemented during the 1999-2000 school year for grades 3 - 8 to provide special instruction to students in reading, math and writing. Results from ALP I indicated a strong impact on student achievement and a decrease in the number of retentions.

At E.B. Frink Middle School in the Lenoir County School System, block scheduling is allowing time for a number of timely intervention strategies such as the "Something Really Awesome" reading remediation program, which provides daily help to struggling students. Students performing below grade level also are required to work daily with either a reading or math teacher in the school's Chapter I computer lab where they complete individualized reading and math activities.

Rising third, fourth and fifth graders needing an academic boost got one by participating in the S.T.E.P. into Summer Program at Jesse Wharton Elementary School in the Guilford County Schools. S.T.E.P., Summer Time Enrichment Program, was Jesse Wharton Elementary School's way to help students not performing on grade level get a jump start on skills required at the next grade while at the same time receiving remediation. Summer school students received instruction in reading, writing, math, computer, physical education and music. Computer, physical education and music classes supported the concepts taught in reading, writing and math. Jesse Wharton Elementary School Principal Pandora Bell said that 30 percent of the time was devoted to acceleration, 30 percent to remediation, and 30 percent to fun.

These are just a few examples of the many ways that schools and school systems are helping students master the basic skills, skills on which all other learning is based. Constant assessment that identifies struggling students and offers immediate intervention will ensure the success of all North Carolina public school students.

For more information on intervention programs in your community, please contact your school system's director of instruction.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.