Title

Star Academy's Foundation of Success Begins and Ends with Implementing Positivity, Safety, and Celebrations

Focused Area

Improving School Climate for Youth-At-Risk

Relevance to Focused Area

The Berkeley County School District (BCSD) Star Academy is a magnet program that operates as a school within a school inside Berkeley High School in Moncks Corner, South Carolina. The Berkeley County School District Star Academy is the winner of the 2012 National Dropout Prevention Network Crystal Star Award of Excellence. The purpose of this magnet program is to allow up to eighty overage eighth graders the opportunity to complete their 8th and 9th grade curriculums in one academic year. The Star Academy must facilitate proper work ethic and diligence by providing them a more structured and supportive atmosphere as they start their high school education and final leg of their journey to earn a high school diploma. These academically at-risk students that are off grade level are more likely to drop out of school due to absenteeism, lack of family involvement, poor behavior, and failing academics. To best support these students, the Star Academy uses the school within a school model to create a culture specifically designed for their needs. While they are still considered 8th graders for the majority of the school year, they are still located on a high school campus that allows them the opportunity to begin integrating themselves in a more mature population rather than the middle schools they had attended before. Further, the Star Academy is able to implement different rules than the high school, such as requiring a dress code, having more Parent Nights through the school year, and utilizing discipline and Positive Behavior Intervention differently. The Star Academy staff in BCSD consists of four core academic teachers, a guidance counselor, and a director. The Star Academy is focused on providing these academically at-risk students an opportunity at starting their high school careers in a safe environment away from the distractions that can be found with students that are not their age. The Star Academy accepts academically at-risk students that meet approved criteria determined by district personnel, middle school principals, high school principals, and guidance directors. Once students are accepted into the program, the Star Academy staff synergizes its efforts to stay in contact with all families, differentiate instruction, research colleges and careers with students, implement character education, and celebrate good behavior and grades. The Star Academy utilizes these Parent Nights, character education, guest leaders, community service, and dress code to create an environment and culture that is conducive to reconnecting both the student and family back into the education process.

Primary Strand

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Relevance to Primary Strand

The purpose of the Star Academy in Berkeley County School District is dropout prevention, retention, and facilitating success through earning a high school diploma. The Star Academy targets overage 8th graders to complete both the 8th and 9th grade in one academic year to give them the best start to their high school career while providing them the type of support and knowledge needed to be successful in the ensuing grades.

Brief Program Description

The presentation is targeted towards middle schools, high schools, and district personnel. The presentation will focus on being able to identify academically at-risk students in the middle school grades with the purpose of selecting them for the Star Academy program which provides an all-inclusive set of support to prevent dropping out of high school.

Summary

This presentation is meant to maximize the collaborative relationship among students, parents, and school officials. By synergizing the efforts of these relationships, the Star Academy is able to instill a set of rules, values, and goals for students to own. Utilizing a dress code, character education, Parent Nights, guest speakers, and community service are all wonderful tools to combat the negative effects of being off grade level such as poor behavior, absenteeism, and academic failure; however, it is not enough unless all stakeholders within students' education are on the same page. This presentation will help to educate other participants on the importance of finding alternative avenues of success for students that are deemed overage and academically at-risk. The Star Academy model in BCSD utilizes a uniformed set of criteria to select the students that have the best opportunity at being successful in a two grades in one year program. The students that are selected are signed to a probationary contract that holds them responsible to be motivated and work hard in the program; the students are the most important stakeholders in their education and must make the decision to accept the opportunities and challenges Star Academy offers. Once the program begins, students are unified in a dress code, receive character education, attend Parent Nights after school, complete community service, attend forums by guest speakers, and participate in college and career studies with the guidance counselor. The Star Academy presentation will provide all of the procedures, documents, and statistics of the program. After the presentation, participants will be more knowledgeable about the circumstances that surround students that are off grade level as well as the statistics that support providing extra resources to them. One of the best ways for overage and academically at-risk students to retake ownership of their education is for them to see schools, districts, and personnel working to invigorate new opportunities for all students.

Evidence

In the past five years, at 86%, 1,521 9th grade credits out of 1,766 have been earned. 81% of the students that have finished the Star Academy and high school have graduated on time. This evidence supports the research done by many scholarly journals that state students who are off grade level do need extra support through school initiatives to reengage students and families back into the educational process. In Reducing the Risk: Schools as Communities of Support, Gary Wehlage says that "successful programs matched student needs and problems, and took advantage of student interests and strengths." Bob Rath states in Helping OverAge, UnderCredited Youth Succeed: Making the Case for Innovative Education Strategies, "students who fall behind and drop out of school display many early warning indicators such as absenteeism, poor behavior, and class failure." This is important to why and how Star Academy operates, because many times the needs of the students are not academic even though they are academically at-risk. The Star Academy looks to put many of its support strategies in place such as having a director be responsible for only the students in the program to best focus on and combat poor attendance, behavior, and grades. The director works one on one with students and families to address attendance, as well as implementing character education to increase positive behavior. Creating a positive school environment for all students is critical for their success, but it must become schools responsibilities to identify the needs of their students and implement appropriate practices.

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Mr. Bryant has specialized in working with at-risk students since the beginning of his career. He is a nine year teaching professional and has worked in two schools. The first school he worked, a vast majority of the students were below the poverty line. Mr. Bryant has worked at Berkeley High School for the past eight years where he created the curriculum for Academic Learning: ELA, a class that targeted students that had not passed the required 10th grade exit exam. After teaching that class for four years, Mr. Bryant was hired as the Star Academy Director, a position he still currently holds. Mr. Steele has been in education for over 20 years and has been the principal of Berkeley High School for the past four years. He has recently lead Berkeley High School to its first double excellent rating in both Absolute Rating and Growth. In addition, Mr. Steele has lead Berkeley High School to a Palmetto Gold award for 2016.

Start Date

10-23-2016 10:00 AM

End Date

10-23-2016 11:00 AM

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Oct 23rd, 10:00 AM Oct 23rd, 11:00 AM

Star Academy's Foundation of Success Begins and Ends with Implementing Positivity, Safety, and Celebrations

The presentation is targeted towards middle schools, high schools, and district personnel. The presentation will focus on being able to identify academically at-risk students in the middle school grades with the purpose of selecting them for the Star Academy program which provides an all-inclusive set of support to prevent dropping out of high school.