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Column: Area Learning Center, WHS work together

District 518

WORTHINGTON -- As the school year comes to an end and graduation approaches, it is important to understand how students obtain a high school diploma from Worthington public schools.

Students must earn 30 credits. More than half of these credits must be met through required courses in core curriculum areas. Along with these credit requirements, students must pass all state required tests in reading, writing and math. These graduation requirements are not only required for students attending Worthington High School, but for Worthington Area Learning Center students as well.

However, in order for Worthington Area Learning Center (ALC) students to meet these graduation requirements, it is important that Worthington High School and the ALC collaborate effectively in all areas. This collaboration consists of curriculum alignment, sharing resources and teachers as well as providing credit recovery opportunities for students.

How is this collaboration working? During the past few years, ALC students have been able to take elective classes such as art, woods, ag and careers at the high school. This fall, these course offers will expand to include computer application, physical education, health, additional math instruction, work seminar and others, depending on availability of course offerings.

Through this collaboration, the ALC has been able to align its curriculum more accurately with the high school curriculum. The outcome of this alignment has allowed teachers at the ALC to receive training and use of the PLATO computer-based math and reading curriculum, purchase new books and supplemental materials in Language Arts for the 2010-2011 school year. Finally, we will begin reviewing the social studies curriculum this fall to align it with the high school social studies curriculum.

Alignment of curriculum is extremely important to ensure that students are getting the same information throughout the district. This idea is especially relevant when considering students that fail a course at the high school and need to retake it during either night or summer school. We need to make certain our students are learning the same information regardless of the building or teacher.

This relates to another way the two buildings have been collaborating. Last summer, both the ALC and high school teamed up to offer summer school classes at both locations. This team approach allowed us the opportunity to offer more summer school classes for students who had a failed a course during the school year. This summer, we will again be teaming up to offer summer school, but due to construction at the high school all of the classes will be at the ALC. A student's graduation date can be negatively affected when classes are failed. This situation often results in night classes, additional summer school classes or even attending the ALC full-time. With multiple class options, graduation becomes a possibility for these students.

The ability for both the Worthington Area Learning Center and Worthington High School to collaborate can and does make a big difference for students in our community. Our ultimate goal is for students to receive a quality education while reaching their goal of achieving a high school diploma.

Rhonda Brandt is the District 518 area learning center coordinator.