New Program To Raise Graduation Rates

By WBNG News

September 11, 2010 Updated Sep 11, 2010 at 12:04 AM EDT

The Binghamton City School district is taking a new approach to raise graduation rates.

A new program gives teachers different ways to connect with students and hopes to send more kids off to college.

Diamond Green says her poor attendance led to failing grades.

She says, "I didn't go to school so I had to come here and see if I can pass my grades and stuff."

Diamond and nearly 80 other Binghamton High School students were invited to join a new program at the Columbus School on Hawley Street.

BHS is extending it Regents program to include ninth and tenth graders.

Teachers say students are entering high school reading below their grade level.

The district says its crucial to catch at risk students earlier.

Binghamton City School District Superintendent, Peggy Wozniak says,
"You have to get it earlier in high school. You cannot wait until junior year to help a student catch up if they're behind in credits."

The program breaks the kids up into small groups.

Teachers say this is a major benefit.

Carol Wilczynski, a teacher for the program says, "The average class size at the regular high school is about twenty five. Here, the average class size is about twelve. So they have fewer students to compete with."

Dismal graduation rates spurred the district to think about new ways to move kids up the ladder.

In 2009, statistics show Binghamton City School District with a 56 percent graduation rate.

That falls below similar small urban school districts in New York.

Elmira School District was at sixty one percent, Utica School District sixty one percent, Lackawanna School District sixty seven percent and Jamestown School District seventy one percent.

Teachers say it's not only the academics that keep students away from the classroom.

Wilczynski says "Some of them haven't been successful in school. They have family tragedies or situations at home that prevented them from being successful in school."

The goal is to eventually integrate these students back into Binghamton High School so they can graduate on time.

For students like Diamond, this program and its teachers may be key steps to her success.

Diamond says, " I would like to pass the school years so I can go to college and be nurse and get my nursing degree."

The District hopes New York State can eventually release statistics earlier so they can have a more accurate idea of their progress.

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