Jennifer L. Berghom | The Monitor
January 17, 2008 - 11:55PM
McALLEN — Only incoming freshman and sophomores at three of McAllen’s high schools are set to start classes in smaller community settings this fall.
During a workshop on Thursday, McAllen schools Superintendent Yolanda Chapa said that after talking with teachers at the district’s high schools, she decided to implement the high school redesign project with just the freshman and sophomore classes.
“This is the biggest group at risk,” Chapa said.
With changes in state law now requiring students to take core classes — math, science, social studies and English — for four years, those students will have more requirements for graduation, she said.
Only Lamar Academy/Options High School will undergo the high school redesign for grades nine through 12, she said, because that is what staff at that school wanted.
Under the high school redesign project, schools are split into smaller “learning communities” with about 300 students in each community. These communities can have themes, like performing arts or science and engineering.
The project also calls for each teacher and administrator to oversee about a dozen students, checking in with them about once a week to see how well they’re doing in school.
Weslaco, Zapata and Pharr-San Juan-Alamo school districts rolled out their redesign projects this school year. Those districts placed all students in smaller learning communities and matched them with teaches or administrators. So far, teachers in Weslaco and PSJA have given the program mixed reviews.
All grade levels in the McAllen school district will come under the redesign in the 2009-10 school year.
Jennifer L. Berghom covers education and general assignments for The Monitor. She can be reached at (956) 683-4462.