West Point schools launch tutoring program

WEST POINT — West Point High School students who have difficulty passing the subject area tests will soon be getting a helping hand.

An after school tutoring program geared toward students with disabilities, is set to begin next month. The one-hour tutoring program was approved by school board members this past week.

It will be held at West Point High School North Campus and will focus on three of the four testing subjects: English II, Biology I and Algebra I. Students are required to pass each section to graduate.

“Our goal is to help disabled students pass the subject area tests,” said Yvonne Cox, director of the Office of Special Services. “They can pass their classes like English II, but it’s difficult for them to go back and pass the tests because they still have disabilities.”

In 2008, 62.9 percent of West Point students passed the English II section. The statewide average was 77.2 percent.

One of the best parts of the program is its ability to tailor to each student’s specific needs, Cox said. Instead of focusing on the overall test, instructors will focus on the student’s strengths to improve their overall score.

“If a child has already taken the test, we will look … and see what their strengths are,” Cox said. “We then can focus on their strengths and remediate their weaknesses. By focusing on what they do well, they can gain those points they need to pass.”

The tutoring sessions will be conducted Tuesday through Thursday from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Teachers will review data and plan for the next day’s sessions from 4:30 to 5 p.m. This will reduce the need for teachers to take time from their normal school day to plan for the after school program, Cox said.

Students currently receive tutoring from subject area interventionists and assistance in their resource classes. Low passing rates, however, have brought about a new method. And students with disabilities require a smaller group setting, Cox said.

“Any type of one-on-one instruction, if intense enough, will bring about some results,” she said. “The key is to build on their strengths. For example, If a child scores better on one section of the Biology exam than the other, we need to focus on that part and remediate the other.”

School Board chairman Gene Brown said the smaller setting will be beneficial for disabled students.

“Anytime you can work one-on-one with a kid it helps them learn better and shows them someone is really interested in their learning,” he said. “Hopefully, it should help their scores.”

Cox said she hopes to begin the program earlier in the school term so teachers will have more opportunities with children struggling to pass the rigorous tests. She said she also hopes to bring the program to younger students.

“With the success rate that I know we’re going to have, I’m hoping next year we can start this earlier in the year. But at the same time, go down to Fifth Street (Junior High) and do the same type of work to help them pass the MCT (Mississippi Curriculum Test).

“By doing that you can move it all down until its flowing. At the same time, we will have some excellent data on each of the students. Teachers will have documents and data to see what’s working and what’s not.”

The three teachers set to instruct the program. Cox said students will attend at least one tutoring session daily.

Kenneth Mister/Daily Times Leader