Students To Get After-School Help

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Rim Country Middle School students who fail to complete their homework will get MASH-ed after Jan. 25.

The new program called Mandatory After School Help will corral kids who show up to class with unfinished homework into a classroom with a teacher to help them complete it.

Each RCMS teacher has volunteered to spend the time after school three or four times every semester to supervise the after-school study session, Principal Gary Witherspoon told the school board Monday night.

Witherspoon, along with Payson High School Principal Roy Sandoval and Payson Center for Success Principal Kathe Ketchem provided the board with updates on achieving board goals. Goals involve improving academics, providing good customer service, maintaining the grounds and generating positive media coverage.

District administrators last briefed the board in the fall. Board member Rory Huff said the continual updates are to keep the district on track with achieving the goals.

Still, a program like MASH could snafu transportation plans if a student stuck after school fails to ride home on the bus. Working parents might not have an alternative, worried board member Matt Van Camp. The program is set to run from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Witherspoon said parents can opt out, but their child would receive a zero for the assignment. At some point, “you have to have some backbone,” he said.

Eventually, kids realize it’s easier to finish their homework. The middle school also offers tutoring for an hour three days each week.

At the high school, Sandoval said interventions like meeting with students who are failing classes have generally worked. After meeting with the parents of 22 freshmen who were collectively failing 68 classes, the number of classes failed fell to 40 by the semester’s end. However, some parents failed to show up — only 22 meetings materialized out of 36 scheduled.

A lot of the parents who did show up were fed up with their children, some of whom are extremely difficult to help, said Sandoval.

“We’re not here for punishment,” he said he told the students and their parents. “We’re here for support and to figure out a way (to pass.)”

Despite the inevitable challenges, Sandoval said the high school sat on the cusp of being recognized by the state as an “excelling” school. To achieve the ranking, more students need to “exceed” standards on state standardized tests.

Sandoval said he spoke with 30 juniors whose sophomore standardized test scores were close to “exceeding” on all three subjects — reading, writing and math — and tried to convince them to retake the test. Six of those students retested and moved into the “exceeding” range.

At PCS, the school recently relocated to the old district office on Wade Lane. The larger space opens the potential for expanded enrollment. PCS often has a waiting list.

See next Tuesday’s Roundup for more details.

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