Since the start of an academic intervention program at Hamburg High School in September, 54 "at-risk" students have been referred to the program and helped academically or personally.
Students are referred to the program by teachers, counselors, parents or administrators who notice poor academic performance, poor attendance, discipline problems, dramatic attitude changes, suspected substance abuse or child abuse or neglect, a limited English proficiency or teen pregnancy, according to Dyan Scritchfield, academic intervention specialist.
Scritchfield said that after a student is referred, state test scores, report cards and progress reports are assessed, as well as any behavioral problems that might exist. After all assessments have been made, Scritchfield sends short surveys to the student's teachers to see if there is an overall or specific academic problem.
A meeting is then held with the student, parents, counselors and teachers to come to a strategy for intervention or referral to an outside program.
The progress of each referral is tracked, and if there is no improvement after the first meeting, additional intervention is considered, according to Scritchfield.
"Without this program, we would have 54 students not getting the help they need," said School Board member Eileen Rucker. "One student helped would have been great. This is extraordinary."
Of the 54 students receiving assistance, 27 were referred for poor academic performance, four for substance abuse, 12 for disciplinary problems, six for family support, three for those with limited English and three for Persons in Need of Supervision.
Currently, Scritchfield's position is split between being the academic intervention specialist and an English teacher, but several board members feel the position should be increased to a full-time post so that the program can be instituted in the middle school.
"The earlier the intervention, the better," said board member Sandra Holden.
Scritchfield recommended that there be a separate specialist in the middle school who would work closely with the high school specialist.