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DOUBLE ENGLISH CLASSES PROPOSED TO AID STUDENTS

The Silver Creek School District is proposing a "double dose" treatment and summer school to help students at risk of failing the required Regents' English exam.

Superintendent James Mills outlined a plan Wednesday for the School Board that offers double English classes for students previously identified as non-Regents performers. Starting in 1999, high school students must past Regents exams in English in order to graduate. Under the proposal, the 11th grade class of 1997-98 would serve as an experimental group. These students would take the double sessions and try the Regents test.

"It would not be required yet, but we'd like the board to target them as having to take the exam," Mills said.

About 40 at-risk 10th grade students in 1997-98 would take double classes in that year and in the following year. Then they would take the required Regents exam.

"If they pass, they are eligible to graduate," Mills explained. "If they fail, we would be responsible to have an intense summer school program."

Another aspect of the plan reaches back to the upcoming eight grade classes.

Mills suggested mandating that eighth graders pass English -- with no exceptions -- before moving on to ninth grade. Again, summer school would be offered.

Board members cited several possible problems with the plan, including increased pressure on students, higher dropout rates, difficulties for students who take longer to learn and students needing help in multiple areas.

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