WAYNE COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - The Wayne County School District has received a $900,000 grant from the state for a new academy to help students who may have fallen behind.
The school district says the STAR Academy is a "drop-out prevention" and "catch-up" type program that will be implemented in fall of 2017.
Crystal Bates, Curriculum Director with the Wayne County School District, says the initiative consists of students that have been previously retained in any grade level in their academic career, focusing on eighth grade students. The academy is technology-driven, with no more than 20 students per class.
"Hands-on, kinetic activity, strategies," Bates said. "Everything is technology driven, it is group-based, it is all about collaboration with your peers."
The students enroll in eighth grade level courses first semester and ninth grade level courses during the second semester. If students pass all prerequisites, they have the opportunity of entering the high school as a 10th-grader the following year, joining their original cohort of classmates.
"We all want our students to graduate and go on to college or into the work force, and I have seen this help students. I want that for Wayne County, I want the grad rate to go up," Bates said.
The STAR Academy is a three-year grant program. At the end of the third year, Bates says all equipment will become property of the Wayne County School District, which includes all furniture, computers, tablets and curriculum resources.
Bates says the district has been provided with "a wonderful opportunity to reach out and become a beacon of hope for particular students who may be at risk of becoming a mere statistic. By offering hope to academically struggling students, the STAR Academy program will become a positive element to our district."
There are just two STAR Academies currently in the state, in the Vicksburg Warren and George County School Districts.
Since 2005, there has been an 83 percent overall completion rate of all the STAR Academies. The STAR Academy is nationally recognized as one of the most effective dropout prevention solutions in the country.
Bates says the STAR Academy will be across the street from Wayne County High School, where the alternative school is currently housed. She will contact eighth-graders who are eligible for the program this Fall. Parents must approve the option before students can enroll.