New Albany High School is investigating ways to increase intervention for general education and gifted students.

New Albany High School is investigating ways to increase intervention for general education and gifted students.

Assistant principal Rex Reeder told the school board Dec. 13 that 307 had failing grade during the first semester of the school year.

After identifying each student and having the teacher fill out an academic alert form for each, teachers met one on one with the students to assess each situation.

"Sixty-three percent of those failures went away after those conversations," Reeder said.

He said the board may expect 100 percent of the failures to go away, which is what the high school is working toward with the new intervention program.

"We have to take baby steps," Reeder said. "This is a three- to five-year process."

Principal Ric Stranges said failures previously were part of the bell curve that is not acceptable now.

"We need to have some accountability for failures and determine how we can best intervene at the classroom level," Stranges said.

Reeder said a number of issues with the failing grades were homework-based. The high school administration is looking at the background of its students and also considering how each student learns information presented in the classroom.

Teachers also must be retrained to differentiate when instructing students, Reeder said.

"There are so many different student levels (of learning) in our classrooms, we have to train our teachers to differentiate," he said.

The school is looking at a three-tier approach to intervention. It will incorporate intense individualized intervention, small-group supplemental instruction and screening and core instruction for general education (GE) students. The GE students could receive homework help, math and writing labs and small-group time.

Reeder said his staff members also are working with middle school teachers to determine if any transitions from middle to high school classes are a problem.

He also said 268 high school students have been identified as "gifted" and the high school does not have a gifted-education coordinator like the lower grades.

"Those students need help, too," he said.

Reeder said many of the students identified as gifted are not taking advantage of higher-level classes available to them, which is why the school asked them to complete a survey so administrators can learn why.

Reeder said one way to improve enrollment in advanced placement classes, for example, may be to market the classes to the students.

Board member Natalie Matt said that is a concern after she reviewed the survey Reeder provided. It showed one gifted student who wasn't signed up for any higher-level courses.

Board member Mike Klein said NAHS may need a gifted-education coordinator, even if most other high schools do not.

Reeder said the administration has started the process by looking into ways to provide intervention for gifted students.

School officials also are considering ways to transition between high school classes, as well as between the middle school and high school.

Madeline Partlow, director of teaching and learning, said five new high school courses have been recommended for the 2011-12 school year. She said while working with Stranges and Reeder on the high school intervention programs, they determined they might be able to strengthen high school science classes and the transition to physics by changing the order of science classes offered.

Currently, freshmen take biology. Instead, Partlow is proposing that freshmen take a physical sciences class and sophomores take biology. Students would then be required to take physical science and Algebra I to study the physics course, which was changed as part of the proposed new class list.

An AP Calculus BC course also is being suggested. Partlow said many high school students who currently want a second calculus class have to take a course through The Ohio State University. She recommends the school offer the course on its own campus.

"It strengthens the program," she said.

A business principles and marketing class also was added at the suggestion of a high school accounting teacher. Partlow said the teacher found he could teach accounting in one semester and study other business-related topics in the yearlong course. The new course will feature "business basics, marketing research, promotion and advertising, management and human resources, price planning and strategizing, sales, facility, location and distribution considerations, finance and accounting, product development, customer focus and service, branding, packaging and labeling and business planning," she said.

The fifth class being requested is a digital imaging and media class. Partlow said there is more interest than space in the darkroom photography class, so this would allow more students to take photography and learn other digital concepts. It would be considered an art class.

The board tabled the new course recommendations during the Dec. 13 meeting. Board president Mark Ryan said the board would vote on those recommendations in January.