Classes to repeat failed subjects will no longer be offered during the school day

Retaking failed classes in order to fulfill graduation requirements will be harder for Newberg High School students this year after administrators decided it will no longer offer credit recovery classes during the school day.

Previously, eight credit recovery class periods were offered each day, serving about 180 students per semester, according to Silver School principal Eric Bergmann. Now the program will be limited to 32 students — eight from each of the four small schools — and available from 2:45 to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday after school.

Because some students will complete course work in less than a semester and others more, filling spots will be done on a rolling basis, with priority given to seniors on track for graduation.

“We’re not going to be able to reach nearly as many kids in the current model as we have in the past, but the old system was using valuable FTE (full-time equivalency teachers),” Bergmann said. “We were spending teaching FTE on that position and we felt that long term it would be a better utilization of our FTE if we repurposed it.”

The funds saved by the move were put back into the school’s general fund, which allowed the administration to redesign its English Language Development program, adding more staff to work with students who are learning English along with their regular load of content-based subjects.

“(The ELL course load is) a tough job for everyone, so having some skilled adults in the building to help us with that was crucial,” Bergmann said. “It was definitely a priority that was laid out by our superintendent. It was something she felt strongly about and we agreed. It was definitely a universal decision that this was money well spent.”

The credit recovery program, which requires a counselor’s approval to enroll, gives students access to online programs, mostly for core academic subjects like science, math, social studies and language arts, that they can follow at their own pace and also access at home. Teachers will supervise students to ensure their schoolwork is completed and offer support when they encounter problems or need help.

Bergman said that the district changed the online program it utilizes for the third straight year, but that superintendent Kym LeBlanc-Esparza was able to negotiate a deal, in part by narrowing the range of subjects and classes available through its subscription, that will save the district a significant amount of money while still offering value to students.

Bergmann added that when he arrived at NHS three years ago, the program was probably being relied upon too much by students, but it will be less of a problem moving forward.

“The administrative crew around here got the feeling that kids were realizing that if they hit a rough patch in a class, then they could stop working in their class because they knew they could go and take it through credit recovery,” Bergmann said. “Obviously, that’s not the kind of message we want to be sending. We want kids to be held to rigorous standards all the time.”

The school is anticipating that it may have to alter its summer school classes to compensate for the limited availability during the school year and will examine it in the spring when it has a better idea of the demand.

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