Support mechanisms aimed towards students struggling in advanced-level courses
Blair's Honors-AP workgroup has made plans with the University of Maryland (UMD) to implement new support mechanisms for students enrolled in Honors and Advanced Placement (AP) classes this semester, according to program coordinator Myriam Rogers. The plan includes an after-school tutoring program, which will begin Wednesday, and a half-credit fifth period support class.
Starting this week, graduates and undergraduates from UMD will come to Blair every Wednesday from 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. to help Blazers enrolled in Honors and AP classes who need assistance, Rogers said. "Anyone who needs help can come." The UMD students will work with Blazers individually or in small groups, and the tutoring will take place in the Media Center, according to Rogers.
Rogers has also made arrangements for a fifth period tutoring and support class called "Skills for Success," which will count as half a credit. Although the plans are not final, the class will start with two sections, one for humanities and one for math and science, according to Rogers. One UMD teacher in the Masters Certification program will lead each class, while several undergraduates will be available for both group and one-on-one tutoring. "The main teacher will address the whole class when students are being taught study skills, but the undergraduates will tutor the class in small groups and give students feedback," Rogers said.
At least once every week, students will be taught how to study effectively, a skill Rogers believes is essential and overlooked when dealing with students in advanced classes. "There is an assumption in AP/Honors classes that all students are equipped with the right study skills," Rogers said. "The tutors will teach them skills such as note taking, memory principles, time management and critical thinking."
The workgroup first came up with the support idea after compiling and reviewing student data from the previous year by totaling the number of A's, B's, C's, D's and E's in each Honors and AP class. "I looked at the student data, talked with several different staff members about how the students are doing and found out that some students were not doing well and did not receive the support to meet their needs," Rogers said.
In addition, the team conducted a survey that was given to students in AP and Honors classes last year and found out that 193 students expressed interest in a fifth period support class, while 57 students expressed interest in an eighth period class. "Looking at the results, there was definitely a need for support," Rogers said. "And if people wanted support, they would want it everyday."
The Honors-AP workgroup is considering additional aspects to the program, but all of these plans, including the fifth period tutoring class, are still pending. "We are still waiting for UMD to pull together all its resources," Rogers said. "If it doesn't happen in two weeks, then we'll start the program the next school year." If the class starts in two weeks, interested students will have to replace an elective they are currently taking with Skills for Success, Rogers said.
During their meetings, the members of the workgroup discussed several goals to accomplish and strategies to use. "We wanted to hit three main areas: student recruitment and retention into higher level classes, student performance in higher level classes and support in these classes for the students," Rogers said.
The workgroup is planning several additions to the program that fall under categories such as incentives, motivation, participation and recruitment, according to Rogers. "We are thinking about getting scholar-athletes or cheerleaders that are enrolled in AP/Honors classes to get the word out and help motivate the students," she said. "We want to help students understand that it's a good thing to be academically successful."
Ravilious is optimistic of the program's potential. "It's terrific to see disadvantaged students take advantage of all the resources available," she said. "I'm really excited to see that it is finally happening."
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