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ALC to introduce technology curriculum

WORTHINGTON -- Selected students at the Area Learning Center will have a chance next year to try the Trojan Learning Academy -- a new, goal-oriented, personalized, technology-based curriculum.

"Students can be in this program full-time or part-time, depending on their needs," said Nate Hanson, the ALC's assistant principal. "Some students may need one or two classes for credit recovery. Some students may need this track for graduation."

The academy is a technology-based learning center with both computer and teacher instruction, and will help students who need more one-on-one instruction and assistance. The program is extremely targeted and will allow students to focus on one core subject at a time.

"Kids will be working on Plato learning software that's accredited with the Minnesota state standards -- or students could be working on a seat-based (more conventional) curriculum from their textbooks," Hanson explained. "During that time, certified staff will go around and help students."

It will likely begin with six to 10 students in the ALC's day program. Later, the academy will expand to allow some of the 100 students participating in evening classes to join.

"These students will be part of the ALC. We're just looking at a type of programming that can meet the students' needs," Hanson said. "The attention span seems to be longer with technological enhancements."

Because the Plato software is online, students may work from home with teacher support, allowing even expelled, hospitalized or homebound kids to keep up with schoolwork despite not being at school. Credit-deficient students may try to catch up with schoolwork from the ALC's classroom, too. Tests may only be taken under teacher supervision at the ALC.

There will be no additional costs associated with the Academy. The Plato software is already being used in math and English classes at Worthington High School and at the ALC, so some staff is already conversant with it and the school already owns all the licenses it will need for the Trojan Learning Academy, Hanson said.

"We've used this (software) for the last two years, and we've seen growth in the student achievement, and we've also seen growth in our reading and math scores," Hanson added.

In order to join the Trojan Learning Academy, students must show progress, be respectful, set goals, cooperate, participate and earn credits within the appropriate timeframe.

The new curriculum for the Academy is still under development and remains a tentative model pending staff input and assistance, Hanson said. Some additional staff training will be required before the school year begins in August 2011.