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New Cape Girardeau Central Junior High School program intended to lower dropout rate

Monday, April 27, 2009

Bailey Kralemann, front left, and Britney Hubbard, front right, seventh graders at Cape Girardeau Central Junior High, sit in pre-algebra class Friday morning. Next year, a program at Cape Girardeau Central Junior High will help students with time management, study habits, graduation plans and more.
(Elizabeth Dodd)
Efforts to combat dropout rates will target younger students with a new program at Cape Girardeau Central Junior High School, set to begin next year.

Teachers formulated the Academic Course Enhancement Program, or ACE, to help prepare at-risk students for high school by working on character building, time management and study skills.

"They identify, do I have all the resources necessary to be a successful student," said Roy Merideth, junior high school principal. He said most students at the junior high school level want to graduate, but sometimes lack the resources to reach the goal.

"When you talk to them individually, they don't know how," he said.

One aspect of the class focuses on completing high school. He said the plan graduation will help students understand the concept of credit and the seriousness of high school curriculum, Merideth said.

Dana Hiatt, left, and Andrea Griffin work with the rest of a committee on reviewing professional development for the current school year and planning for next year at Cape Central Junior High.
(Elizabeth Dodd)
"You're moving out of the minor league and into the major league ballpark," he said.

The high school has a similar program for freshmen, Preparing for Academic Success, or PAS.

At the junior high school, there will be six sections for each grade capped at 10 students. At its inception, Merideth said the program was to target under-resourced learners, students coming from poverty or who have other obstacles at home. He said student participation will be determined by Missouri Assessment Program scores, reading assessments, and disciplinary and attendance issues.

During the first semester, 34 seventh-graders and 38 eighth-graders failed two or more core courses. Those numbers represent 12.8 percent and 14.5 percent of the school's student population, respectively. About 52 percent of the junior high school students also qualify for free and reduced lunches.

Assistant superintendent Pat Fanger said the program will target students at a critical point in their education.

Bailey Kralemann, left, and Britney Hubbard, seventh graders at Cape Central Junior High, attend pre-algebra class Friday morning. One program Cape Central Junior High will be starting next year is Academic Course Enhancement, which will incorporate helping at-risk students with time management, study habits, graduations plans and more.
(Elizabeth Dodd)
"We're learning that we have to start earlier and earlier with them," she said.

Fanger said she hopes the program will create a welcoming learning environment and improve relationships with struggling students.

"They're going to do a lot of self-planning and learning how to care about education," Fanger said.

For the past four years, the school had an at-risk class taught by a part-time teacher. The new program will "widen the net" and include more students, Merideth said. Two teachers, one from communication arts and one from math, will be moved from their current classes to teach the program, he said. The class will fulfill one of two elective class requirements.

Merideth said the school is implementing two other plans next year to streamline the learning process. Math, communication arts, social studies and science classes will be blocked together. Teachers will share the same students and meet once a week to discuss struggling students, he said. Literature and composition classes will also be blocked together with the same teacher so students have more consistency with those subjects, he said.



Pertinent address:

205 Caruthers Cape Girardeau, MO

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Reshuffle the deck and expect different outcomes. Make work projects. Let's all look busy. Until the real problem is addressed (if it can be) don't expect different outcomes. Until the minimum attendance age is abandoned, parents will need to be held accountable for their kids' education. This will never happen.

-- Posted by Rocket_Surgeon on Mon, Apr 27, 2009, at 7:43 AM

It's not terribly difficult. Take a field trip to your local Burger King. Spend a day teaching them how to wash grease-caked dishes, how to flip burgers, and how you will never get the smell of fast food out of your nostrils.

Explain that if they would like to do this for the next 20 years of their lives, all they have to do is hop off of their taxpayer-funded education gravy train.

Although getting the mollycoddling government schools on board with actually challenging their charges with any kind of actual synaptic strain would be the real obstacle. The bar will just be lowered until success is defined as showing up (from time to time, based on income) and practicing (mindless repetition) often enough, regardless of results. Certainly, this will lower the dropout rate!

-- Posted by bearded_sage on Mon, Apr 27, 2009, at 9:08 AM

I appreciate the efforts but until the parents get involved nothing will work. Sorry!

-- Posted by bulletman on Mon, Apr 27, 2009, at 10:08 AM

I appreciate the effort being made at the junior high. At least somebody is taking some action to help the students. It helps when parents are involved and the teachers don't feel like they are fighting a losing battle. It's a two-way street and it has to start at home!!!!

FARMers have an affinity for Mr Meredith.

-- Posted by socialism_kills_cyclists on Mon, Apr 27, 2009, at 10:42 PM

Hey socialist bike boy....once in a blue moon during Christmas Vacation my friend.

-- Posted by cubbytodd on Mon, Apr 27, 2009, at 11:26 PM

Wanna make sure kids go to school? Then make the parent(s) feel the ramifications when they don't.

Kid misses a day ... parent(s) spends a couple of hours at the school. Kid misses a week ... parent(s) spend Saturday there.

Of "tax" the parents. If they're not going to ensure their kids are going to school, then they're contributing to a future burden on society. Don't go to school for a day ... that's $20 bucks. For a week ... let's take a $100. We have no problems with a sin tax on other areas, so we shouldn't have an issue with this either.

Until the parent(s) feel the pain and the consequences, nothing will change. I don't care what their income level is or how many jobs they have to make ends meet. Exert pressure on the parents.

-- Posted by Wisconsin on Tue, Apr 28, 2009, at 8:40 AM

As wonderful as this program sounds, I wonder if directing precious resources away from critical MAP areas like Communications Arts and Math is the way to go.

Think about it. If the average Communications Arts class has 22 students, and one of those teachers (6 sections a day) is shifted to this program that only teaches 10 students, there will be 12 students per hour that will have to be placed in other CA classes somewhere. In a school which already suffers from abysmally low MAP scores, crowding more students into the same classrooms doesn't seem like a bright idea.

Of course, the administration seems to have a habit of implementing ideas that only work to hurt MAP test scores, so why should we be surprised? For instance, CJHS took the MAP test for three weeks. The test was given in the morning. Did students return to class in the afternoon and receive instruction, Heck no! The administrators had the students go to assemblies, the pool, play in the gym for 3 hours... Parents, teachers, students all seem to be in agreement that the time should be used for class, but Mr. Merideth must be smarter than all of us.

Let the students do anything but learn... then when the scores go down, blame it on the poor or minority kids. That's great leadership from your principal.

-- Posted by Kenneth642 on Tue, Apr 28, 2009, at 4:53 PM

Wanna cut the dropout rate in Capes schools.

Transfer the kids to Jackson.

-- Posted by Mosely on Tue, Apr 28, 2009, at 6:26 PM

Any one else taste that? Is that sour apple or maybe just a bunch of sour grapes...

From my understanding K642, Mr. Merideth DID want to have class, but a poll of the teacher decided that the structure of the day, not an authoritarian ruling.

I personally think he does a great job and is committed to the school, its teachers, and most of all its students. He and Mr. Bruns need to be thanked.

Cycle, Cubbytodd: FARMers, Christmas Vacation? Those are rather random. Can I join the insanity? How about a Mouse on a Motorcycle?

-- Posted by Just__Me on Wed, Apr 29, 2009, at 2:48 PM

I'd be willing to thank the administration if the scores were improving, if fellow parents, teachers and students had any respect for them, if discipline was handed out fairly, instead of being handed out on the basis of race or income level, if CJHS didn't appear to be run like an old Keystone Cops movie.

The administration has a track record of failure. Scores continue to decline. You can point fingers at the teachers all you want, but given the fact that Merideth (and to a lesser extent Bruns) don't appear to pay attention to the teachers ideas anyways, that accusation rings hollow.

Back on the topic of the ACE program, in addition to the 6 class sessions that will be lost, (mentioned above) I've heard that CJHS appears to be eliminating one Math and one Language Arts teacher position. So using the example above, instead of 12 students spread out over the remaining classes, try 34. So not only are you robbing Peter to pay Paul, you are throwing some of the "money" away completely. Not a good idea.

This ACE program is subterfuge, designed to make you think they are doing something productive, and distracting you from their incompetence and inability to improve MAP scores.

My contribution to the random comments:

Doorknobs over Broadway.

-- Posted by Kenneth642 on Fri, May 1, 2009, at 12:10 PM

Another comment. I heard that CJHS is considering hiring a consultant to help the Math Department. They already have one for the LA department. I wonder if this is a good choice, considering it appears that CJHS is cutting a teaching position from the Math Department and diverting another teacher to ACE.

If we don't have money to hire teachers, how is it that we have the money to hire consultants who don't teach a single student?

Maybe they ARE planning on filling the openings. Who knows? If so, don't you think they should get on with it? Other schools have held interviews, hired teachers. The pool is getting smaller. The longer they wait, the fewer qualified teachers there will be looking for jobs.

Either Merideth/Bruns are trying to cut teaching positions quietly, or they are procrastinating. Either way, I don't like it.

-- Posted by Kenneth642 on Fri, May 1, 2009, at 12:27 PM

Kenneth642: Instead of making accusations and complaining on this site, why don't you go see Mr. Merideth or Mr. Bruns in person and sit down and talk to them about your concerns. I've spoken to both of them before and found them open and willing to listen. I've even seen Mr. Merideth change his mind about some things after other points of view were presented.

It's easy to sit here and be anonymous. If you are truly concerned and not just out to bash a person's reputation, go see them.

-- Posted by MouseintheHouse on Fri, May 1, 2009, at 4:25 PM

Anyone who has met with Mr. Merideth can see through the lies you are telling. He is anything but the authoriatarian that you portray him to be. He loves his job, he loves his students, & he loves the staff/faculty that are doing their best to educate the kids. He makes sacrifices in his own life to try to help the kids at CJHS. I want him to be there if and when my kids pass through.

K642, you spout so much hate combined with non-facts that cannont be confirmed on the CPS website, that you must be some disgruntled employee.

PS: Have you ever cross checked staffing numbers vs. students in the building? That might be an interesting FACT when whining about teacher numbers.

PSS: Another thought. MAP scores are recorded for a given grade, for now I'll use "7th". Those 7 students were not educated at CJHS for the 6 years prior to testing. CJHS is being graded on DIFFERENT GROUPS OF STUDENTS each year that was presented upon them from the community. AYP is a load of cr*p, because it does not measure the progress made by individual student. It's all a bunch of bull squeeze and should be done away with. Ooops. Ended a sentence with a preposition. Maybe you could punish my old school district with that...

-- Posted by Just__Me on Fri, May 1, 2009, at 9:38 PM

I have also met with both Mr Bruns and Mr Merideth on several occasion, both for personal and professional reasons. And although I do not spend a tremendous amount of time at the school when I am there I can tell you that both of them have the best interest of the kids in mind every day. In addition to their responsibilities as administrators, they also play the role of counselor, parent figure, mentor, law enforcer, listener, mediator, fire fighter, leader and numerous other titles on a daily basis. Until you walk in their shoes every day, do not criticize how they do their job. You think getting results is as easy as snapping your fingers Mr/Mrs K642, then offer to do their job for just one day. Or better yet, if you're that unhappy then submit your resignation and take your knowledge and unmatched teaching skills to another district that is better suited to your needs.

I can't stand people that think they can do someone elses job better than their own, when in fact they aren't as good as they think they are at their own job.

KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK ALAN AND ROY!!!!!!! Don't let one bad apple ruin they progress you are making with the staff and faculty that really care about our kids.

-- Posted by cubbytodd on Fri, May 1, 2009, at 10:52 PM

I've met with both of these men regarding my son, and was not so impressed. It was apparent that he had been singled out and was not going to be treated fairly. So we put him in a private school and he has strived ever since. So you might say I'm disgruntled, but I'm not an employee. I do know quite a few teachers, other parents, and students that are dissatisfied with the administration at the school. Several groups are working to make a positive change, but we don't seem to get much help from the School system. Some of us have tried working with the Superintendent in the past, but its like a revolving door.

Just_me: So you are blaming the low MAP scores on the elementary and middle schools? If the elementary schools aren't providing a good foundation, you might have a point. But isn't it your job, I mean the administrator's job to help the teachers fix the problems when the students get to your school? "CJHS is being graded on DIFFERENT GROUPS OF STUDENTS each year that was presented upon them from the community?" So what are you trying to say? "Garbage in-garbage out?" That's the problem with this school system, blame the kids, especially the minorities and the poor. Way to pass the buck. Isn't it your job, I mean, the job of the administrators and teachers to adapt to the different groups of incoming students and teach them all?

Mr.Merideth isn't the only person in SE Missouri to be a principal. There are hundreds around the area who manage to fill all the responsibilities listed above and still help to make the school a better place and raise scores.

I'd take your job for a day.

-- Posted by Kenneth642 on Mon, May 4, 2009, at 10:26 AM

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