Education Feature: Freshmen’s grades improve

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Chris Sharp, 14, studies Wednesday during class at Clovis High School’s Freshman Campus.

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

Teresa Rodriguez said a teaming concept in place at the Clovis High School Freshman Campus would have helped her when she was in school.

Rodriguez said she wasn’t the best student. But if she had received the kind of push her ninth-grade son and his classmates are given now, she would have done better in school.

“I was one of those lazy students,” she said. “But I’m blessed ’cause my son is the total opposite.”

Since opening the Clovis Freshman Campus, the number of failing grades for Clovis ninth-graders has gone down by 80 percent, according to Principal Diana Russell.

The number of F grades in the first nine weeks of the school year is 45, which is down from last year’s 229.

Clovis Schools Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm said the freshman campus is producing the results she expected.

The school district created the campus to ground the skyrocketing dropout rate among high school students. Seidenwurm said students were dropping out because they didn’t have the credits they needed when they transferred from junior high school. When they couldn’t make up the work, they dropped out, she said.

“I am very pleased,” she said. “The early indications are this should help.”

Teachers credit a teaming concept incorporated from the Amarillo school district. The concept allows them to keep track of students easier and inform parents about their child’s performance sooner and more efficiently.

“It takes a community to raise a child,” said social studies teacher Brian Pickard. “There are tons of resources at our fingertips.”

The teaming concept groups five core teachers and puts them in charge of about 110 students.

That approach helps prevent students from slipping through the cracks, said language arts teacher Kym Cordova.

“There aren’t any cracks anymore,” she said.

At the beginning of the week the teacher groups meet and discuss how to deal with a student showing signs of failing, Russell said.

Rodriguez said the concept gives parents more control over their child’s education. Instead of meeting with one teacher at a time, parents meet all of a child’s teachers at once, giving them an overall performance assessment.

“It’s more convenient. A lot of parents are single parents. They can’t take a full day off to meet every individual one, and now you can meet with them and talk to every teacher,” Rodriguez said.

Russell said the Clovis middle schools incorporated the teaming concept last year.