Administration trying to improve rates
An electronic survey was distributed to faculty asking for ideas on decreasing the school's increasing ineligibility rates, according to assistant principal Andrew Coleman. He distributed the survey in late February, after analyzing data based on last year and the first semester of this year.
Coleman said that the "Summit Call" survey began in response to an increase in schoolwide ineligibility rates since the end of last year. Coleman sent out the survey via e-mail to school staff on Feb. 26, as a universal call for input from as many people as possible.
According to data Coleman distributed to the staff with the survey, 23.8 percent of all students had a GPA below 2.0 at the end of the second quarter, which rose from 15.4 percent at the end of the 2008-2009 school year. As of the end of second quarter, the ninth grade had the highest ineligibility rate at 30.2 percent, and the seniors had the lowest, with 18.3 percent.
The Summit Call is Coleman's effort to incorporate input from the teachers, he said, and to present a united front to the students. "I want everybody's input on how we, as a school community, can solve this problem. When kids see [the staff is] together, they're going to respond better," Coleman said.
The survey response deadline was extended a few days from its original deadline of March 3 to give teachers more time to complete it. After collecting responses, Coleman will compile a schoolwide plan of action to combat student ineligibility by March 19. Coleman said that although he had only received three surveys by the deadline, he had gotten many good ideas already from the responses. His final compilation of all the ideas will be given to the staff, according to Coleman, and will hopefully be implemented after spring break, if all goes according to plan, said Coleman.
The survey asks the respondent for input on four topics: (1) reasons behind the rising ineligibility rates at Blair; (2) ways the school can help students maintain a 2.0 or higher; (3) willingness to be a "personal mentor" for a few students once a week; (4) ways the school can help the collective student body in reducing ineligibility. The survey also has a space for respondents to write other suggestions or ideas they have that do not belong in the listed questions.
Student ineligibility is a large concern for Coleman because he believes that students' lack of academic success will affect their entire lives. "You can't be successful if you don't have the [academic] basics to make the system work for you," Coleman said. According to Coleman, the ineligibility reduction initiative is connected to hall sweeps, since enforcing timeliness helps ensure students' presence for complete instruction.
Social studies teacher George Vlasits said that he agrees with Coleman that ineligibility is a very serious problem, perhaps even more serious than the survey treats it. However, he also thinks the survey neglects to address the complexity of the issue and the many factors that contribute to a student's ineligibility. "We have an ineligibility problem, a very serious problem, but I don't think the approach is to push the panic button," he said. Vlasits said we have to do some "soul searching," as he calls it, to figure out the root causes of students' disinterest in school and then we can figure out how to remedy it.
Senior Jeremy Potterfield also said the problem seems more complex than what the school can do. "Blair has a big and growing population of students needing free and reduced lunches. These students [may] live with lower-than-average home lives and their GPAs probably suffer from them," he said. "The only way I can see to improve this is by solving a poor quality of life, and that's hard."
Freshman Pilar Ocampo said that she thinks ineligibility has a lot to do with students skipping class, but she does not know the best solution. "I think security knows about the problem, but I don't think increased security would help," she said.
Rebecca Guterman. Rebecca Guterman loves being on Silver Chips! In what little spare time she has left over, she loves to play the piano, dance really badly, and listen to music. Above all, seeing and talking to friends 24/7 is a must. Even though most of her ... More »