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Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Getting grades up
Lawrence is developing more programs to help its students improve
Jeffrey Bessen/Herald
Twenty-three students have still not graduated from Lawrence High School’s class of 2012, which began ninth grade in 2008.

Raising its graduation rate, increasing the number of Regents diplomas with distinction and reaching students who lack a strong educational foundation and English language proficiency are the primary goals of new plans unveiled by Lawrence School District officials at a special board meeting on Monday.

Seventy-five percent of the 252 members of the Lawrence High School class of 2012 graduated on time, at the end of the school year last June. The graduation rate jumps to 91 percent when August 2012 graduates and GED earners are included. Nine percent of the class — 23 students — remain non-graduates. Of the 266 students in the class of 2013, 243 graduated in June, 20 are currently non-grads and three are repeating their senior year.

The non-graduates include immigrant Spanish-speakers who entered the district lacking the educational background to be successful students, according to school officials, who say that these pupils have had their education interrupted for a variety of reasons. “We have a growing number of students that are alone — no guardian, no parent,” said Veronica Ortiz, a Lawrence High guidance counselor and a child advocate at the Five Towns Community Center who acts as a liaison between the school district and its Hispanic community. “They’re fending for themselves and worry about adult problems such as rent and clothes. As a young adult, these are problems you shouldn’t have to think about.”

To help failing students succeed, Lawrence will implement a quarterly review of students who fail two or more classes. “We will look at the issues facing those students and contributing to their performance,” said the high school’s principal, Dr. Jennifer Lagnado. “If they’re not at grade level, we’ll offer other programs to help them catch up.”

In addition to current services which include mentoring, the weekend academic academy, after-school classes and summer school, the district will also develop evening programs for Regents Review and GED, establish improved welcoming procedures for new students, conduct skill assessments and create individual education plans.

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