BALTIMORE, Md.— A few years ago, Baltimore City Public Schools had a problem: many freshman and sophomore students were over-aged while juniors and seniors had severe credit deficiencies. As a result, the district struggled with a low graduation rate.
To help students catch up, Baltimore schools needed to implement alternative instructional methods for credit recovery and original credit. They began an initiative called the “Bold Goal,” requiring each school to identify at-risk students who, through intervention, could potentially graduate in June.
With the creation of a new Twilight Program, students could attend school during the day or at night, taking one or more of Educational Options’ Web-based Novel™ courses – a library of 39 rigorous core and elective courses that can be taken from anywhere with an Internet connection.
The results were astonishing. During the 2005-2006 school year, 93 percent of district seniors graduated and 1,438 students completed credit recovery courses, earning more than 2,773 credits.
Due to the dramatic improvement, the Twilight Program’s enrollment leapt from 2,000 students to 3,000 for the 2006-2007 school year, and 2,145 students successfully recovered credit – a 50 percent increase over the previous year’s impressive numbers.
On September 8, 2006, the Congressional Black Caucus Education Braintrust, one of the premier non-profit, policy-oriented educational and research institutes, recog-nized Baltimore’s Twilight Program with a Congressional award for making a difference in the lives of the city’s at-risk student population. Educators say that using Novel’s Web-based instruction empowers students to take ownership of their education because students are always aware of their progress.
All 37 of the district’s high schools now use the Educational Options system and the phenomenal success has prompted administrators to set even higher goals for next year.
“Now the program’s priority for each Twilight high school is to achieve a 100-percent graduation rate, ”one administrator said.
Once thought to be a “bold goal,” thanks to Novel, teacher dedication, and student determination, it may now be within the city’s reach.