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High School to Provide Pathway to Lower Dropout Rate

Milford High School will initiate a new project, slated to begin in the fall, which will first, identify and then, beginning in January, offer support to students who may be at risk of dropping out before completion of graduation requirements.

"We want to make sure that we can intervene," Milford High School Principal, Michael Tempesta told the School Committee at the July 21 meeting. The program, called Pathways, seeks to provide a means by which the students can receive alternative instruction, in a smaller classroom setting, to "make up work in classes that they've fallen behind in".

Pathways will target "the critical sophomore year, when kids have trouble succeeding in the classroom," Tempesta explained.

Tempesta stated that "you can see a trend on who might not graduate on time" and that high absentee rates, discipline problems and in some cases, substance-abuse problems are prime indicators of students in crisis.

Students who are invited to participate in the program will see their classroom time divided in half, for those subjects in which they are having difficulty. While 50 percent of the class will consist of traditional instruction, the students will utilize the remaining time in "credit recovery", where they have an opportunity to "make up for any work which they may be missing".

While students who, for example, are falling behind in English, will be grouped together for Pathways classes in that subject, the remainder of their classes would be in a regular classroom setting. "They won't be segregated in different wings of the building," the board was told.

Another aspect of the program, going forward, would be the utilization of community volunteers, who might wish to mentor the students or provide a setting for "intern" programs, such as those in industries like Hotel Management. "Not everyone is a traditional student," Tempesta advised. "For some kids (the right setting) is not necessarily the classroom".

A special "academic center" is being created at the school for the Pathways classrooms and the school hopes to hire a director "with a counseling background" to head the program. Initially, the program is expected to accommodate up to 30 students. The measure of the pilot program's success would be apparent through "students gaining credit(s) back".

Tempesta explained, "We track all of the students at Milford High School ... for all of the four years that they are progressing towards the graduation requirements." He added, "We're very confident that in a year's time, we can look at that dropout rate and see it go down." Milford's dropout rate is slightly lower than the state average.




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