It’s not sink or swim at Bexley High School, for either high-achieving students or those who struggle academically, Principal John Kellogg told the school board Oct. 15.
Kellogg reported on the results of programs to assist students all along the academic spectrum, from ninth grade to college admissions.
"It’s not just intervention, it’s prevention," Kellogg said. "We want to keep kids from falling off."
"We make sure we intervene early and often," added Assistant Principal Kristin Robbins.
That intervention begins with a new student orientation for those entering ninth grade or transferring from other districts.
The Schedule Pick-Up Night (SPUN) provides information on such new high school experiences as accumulating credits and maintaining a grade point average, as well as assigning peer mentors who can make the newcomers feel welcome, Kellogg said.
Once immersed in the demands of course work, students who are trying to keep their heads above water can take advantage of the new Intervention Study Halls, launched this spring, or sessions that offer help with math and Spanish.
Counselors are also making extra efforts to identify student who need help passing the Ohio Graduation Test, by bolstering skills in note-taking, organization and study habits as well as the specific subject areas.
Of the 29 sophomores who took part in this two-week program and took the OGT test for the first time this spring, 21 passed all five tests, and four passed four tests.
Higher-performing students are benefiting from more Advanced Placement courses and accelerated classroom offerings, Kellogg continued.
While he expected to hit a ceiling a year ago, Kellogg has seen the number of students enrolling in AP courses and taking the final tests (mandatory since 2003) continue to rise.
There were 401 AP tests taken last year, and the school is slated to administer 442 tests this year.
And a large number of students are scoring fives, the highest mark. The principal reasons that even those scoring lower benefit from the advanced course work.
As graduation looms, the new College Counseling Center is assisting students and parents to research higher education options and prepare applications. Last year the counselors met with 89 percent of seniors.
Overall college attendance by Bexley graduates is up by 4 percent, and attendance in two-year colleges is up by 8 percent. Of those, 67 percent stay in Ohio schools, with Ohio State University being the top choice for young men and Ohio University the preferred destination for young women.
Fifteen applications for Ivy League schools were filled out by the men, and 17 percent were accepted. Two women applied to Brown University but were turned down.
Kellogg wants to explore why only 40 percent of students enroll in the most competitive schools, while a higher percentage are actually accepted.
The programs are geared to support the new Three R’s, the principal said: "Rigor, relevance and relationships."