The Star Academy
School District of Greenville County
Donaldson Career Center and Enoree Career Center
The School District of Greenville County Star Academy Program is a dropout prevention and academic acceleration program for 8th graders who have failed one to two years during their educational journey. The original Star Academy was located at Getty’s Middle School in Easley, SC in 2005. After many hours of studying and planning, the Assistant Superintendent of Career and Technology Education for the School District of Greenville County, Mr. Alex Martin, proposed that a Star Academy be allowed to open in Greenville. With permission from the School District Superintendent and the Board of Trustees, local funds as well as a grant were used to pay for the opening of the first Star Academy for the district to be housed at Enoree Career Center. In July 2007, Mr. Terry L. Manigault, former Assistant Principal at J. L. Mann Academy in Greenville, SC, was hired to be the person in charge on a daily basis for the Star Academy.
What is A Star Academy?
The Star Academy, created by the PITSCO Corporation in Pittsburg, Kansas, is a school within a school program that is founded on the practice of differentiated learning and productive communication methods and is sensitive to the operational constraints of the parent school. The Star Academy seeks to engage students by employing learning activities in all three learning domains: psychomotor, affective, and cognitive. The academy seeks to reengage the parents/guardians in the education of their children by providing them with tools to become a part of the process. Further, it seeks to enable the teacher to become a facilitator and mentor, thus structurally shifting the focus of responsibility for learning and behavior to the student. In one year, the Star Academy takes students through a rigorous course of study that allows them to complete enough core subjects to complete ninth grade and enter tenth grade. Four eighty-minute classes are offered each semester, thus enabling the student to earn up to 8 units in one year. All classes contain space for up to 20 students. Each classroom has 10 - 20 laptop and/or desktop computers containing the Synergistic or Pace Ware software used by the teachers and students for instruction. Lunch is provided at the location. The school day starts at 8:50 a.m. and ends at 3:10 p.m.
Why Enoree Career Center?
Enoree Career Center was chosen so that at-risk students who met the qualifications and attended Berea, Tanglewood, Northwest, Lakeview, League Academy or Sevier Middle School could apply. It was discovered through research and data analysis that the targeted middle schools had many overage eighth graders, and fed several high schools whose dropout rate was high in comparison to other high schools in the district. The career center was chosen as opposed to one of the high schools or middle schools due to its central location, ease of transportation, as well as the hopes of introducing these students to the Career Center’s classes. If the students were chosen to attend the Star Academy at Enoree and returned the following year to take a career center class, then perhaps they would become engaged in something meaningful to them and eventually graduate from high school.
How Were Students Selected to Attend The Star Academy?
In July 2007, school administrators and guidance counselors were asked to submit the names of students who met the criteria to Mr. Alex Martin. The selection criteria:
a. Student is at least 14 years and 6 months of age and not older than 16 years of age on or before September 1 (per state guidelines).
b. Student is eligible for promotion to the 8th grade
c. Student has repeated one or two grades prior to 8th grade.
d. Student has not been expelled from school within the last school year.
e. Student can read at the 6th grade reading level or above.
f. Student is able to work independently and in cooperative learning groups to complete computer-based learning activities.
g. Student and parents must attend orientation and group interview sessions.
h. Student and parents are willing to sign a disciplinary contract that outlines expected behavior and consequences, as well as an academic contract that outlines expected academic performance.
i. Student’s discipline record does not reflect chronic disciplinary issues that may prohibit collaboration with other students.
j. Principal’s recommendation, as well as student discipline records, report cards, attendance records, and state assessment scores are also considered in the selection process.
Mr. Manigault, with consultation from Mr. Martin and his staff created a letter and mailed it to prospective students and parents explaining the opportunity being offered to them. A meeting was held to introduce the Star Academy concept to the students and parents. This was followed by interviews with those who were interested in attending the Academy.
While interviewing possible students, four teachers were also being interviewed and hired. The four classrooms to be used for the Star Academy all had to be up-fitted to handle the number of computers. Due to some changes in architectural plans, the rooms could not be completed until after the Christmas break. Thus the students started the year without all of the computers and other items. The teachers worked very hard to create lessons/curriculum that would keep the students interested in learning. Textbooks and other materials were borrowed from area schools in order for the Star Academy to open at the beginning of the school year. The teachers received their training in early January 2008, and by late January the students were able to start working on the computers.
It was also discovered that a number of students admitted did not meet the qualifications with regard to their ability to read on grade level, attend school regularly, and/or their discipline. There were a total of sixty-five students selected to attend the first Star Academy. Of these, 10 had Special Education/IEP accommodations. Once this was discovered, Special Education meetings were held and students/parents were given the opportunity to return to their middle school or have their IEP’s amended to reflect the amount of time they would have with a special education teacher. All of the students and parents decided to remain in the Star Academy. A Special Education teacher from Berea Middle School provided services to the students one hour a day on consultative basis.
The Opportunities: In addition to the chance to earn up to eight units in one year, The Star Academy program gave students and parents several opportunities to shine and grow as human beings. Student, teacher, parent meetings were held at least once per nine weeks to encourage all stakeholders to communicate positive outcomes, as well as concerns. The ResCom part of the Star Academy presented valuable sessions on student parent relationships, how to deal with difficult students, and choices–consequences. The students were able to attend assemblies during the school day to listen to various speakers regarding careers. They were also able to visit two local colleges, tour the Enoree Career Center, the Fine Arts Center & South Carolina Governors School, and attend a performance at the Bi-Lo Center.
Number of White Females - 10
Number of Black Females - 9
Number of Hispanic Females – 3
Number of Mixed Race Females - 1
Total Number of Students - 56
Number of Reduced Lunch- 2
Number of Free Lunch - 40
Courses Offered – 1st Semester
1. English / Language Arts Skills – elective course toward graduation- does not count as an English credit.
2. Math Tech Skills – elective course toward graduation- does not count as a math credit.
3. Physical Science – counts as a required science unit toward graduation.
4. Physical Education – counts as a required unit toward graduation.
Courses Offered – 2nd Semester
1. 9th grade English – required course toward graduation.
2. Algebra 1 – course counts toward graduation.
3. Biology 1 – counts as a required science unit toward graduation.
4. Global Studies – counts as a required unit toward graduation.
The Results of 2007 – 2008
Number of Students Enrolled
1. The total number of students who were enrolled in the 1st Star Academy = 65.
2. There were 56 students enrolled in the Star Academy by the end of the 1st
semester, and 53 by the end of the year.
What happened to the other students who started the program?
One of the students moved to the Mauldin area with their family and is currently attending Mauldin H. S.
Two of the students and their parents decided to return to their middle school. In
discipline, maturity, etc.
both cases the parents felt their child was doing okay with regard to their grades,
Four of the students were reassigned to one of the middle school alternative programs due to their discipline, attitude, attendance, and/or lack of academic skills to do well in the program. They were accepted into the program with the
hope they would want to improve and take advantage of this great opportunity.
One student was incarcerated.
One student is being home schooled after being assigned to the high school alternative program for discipline violations.
Two of the students dropped out of school. Efforts were made to encourage them
not to give up on their education.
One student was recommended for expulsion during the 2nd semester. He was offered and accepted into the J. Harley Bonds Alternative School.
1st semester-56 students 2nd semester-53 students
During the 1st Semester:
49 out of 56 students earned 3 units toward graduation.
45 out of 56 students earned 4 units toward graduation.
3. Two (2) of the students had the opportunity to make up exams to receive credit.
4. 5 out of 56 students failed due to excessive absences and low grades. These students missed at least 25 days during the 1st semester. Attendance intervention and improvement plans were in place, and several parent/student /teacher/ administrator meetings were held to discuss the situation.
5. Attendance retrieval is offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays to allow students to make up class time and class work.
During the 2nd Semester:
46 out of 53 students earned 3 units toward graduation.
44 out of 53 students earned 4 units toward graduation.
46 out of 53 students earned enough units to be promoted to the 10th grade.
5 of the remaining students went to summer school so they could become 10th graders at the beginning of the 2008 - 2009 school year or during the 2nd semester of the 2008 - 2009 school year.
2 of the students were placed into the 9th grade.
Star Students Who Registered To Take Career Center Classes.
40 of the Star Academy students registered to take classes at one of the career centers or the Fine Arts Center during the 2008-2009 school year.
13 of the students plan to take career classes at their high school.
End of Semester Course Exams
The Star Academy students took an End of Course Exam in the following subjects:
a. Physical Science – 56 students took the test with 14 of them passing.
b. English -1 – 53 students took the test with 23 of them passing
c. Algebra-1 – 12 students took the test with 5 of them passing. The remaining
students took Algebra 1-A and will take the Algebra 1 End of Course Exam the
2008 -2009 school year.
Goals for the 2008-2013 School Years
To increase the number of students passing the End Of Course Test in English and Algebra to 50%.
To increase the Attendance Rate of the Star Academy students to 90%.
To increase the number of students passing 6 or more units to 90%.
To create a student representative group elected by the students to meet regularly to discuss the positives and concerns they may have of the Star Academy.
To create a Star Academy Parent Advisory Group to meet regularly with the staff to discuss positives, concerns, and opportunities for mentoring/job shadowing.
Ways To Reach Each Goal
Goal # 1: Offer students assistance before school, during lunch, and after school in any subject they are having trouble understanding. This will especially apply to their core subjects. Each teacher will be scheduled a day during the week to stay until 4:00 p.m. to assist students needing academic help. Mr. Manigault or his appointee will stay until 6:00 p.m. each of these days to offer further assistance. When necessary, we will modify the schedule to enable groups of students to meet with a teacher of a particular subject to give additional time to learn the material.
Goal # 2: Offer incentives for students to attend school by having a 95% club. We will offer attendance retrieval to students at least two days a month to make up academic work on the computers, and seat time.
Goal # 3: Allow students to make up any missed work so that they do not receive a zero. Contact parents regularly to inform them of incomplete work and low test scores.
Goal # 4: Allow the students to elect one person from their 1st period class to be their homeroom representative. Schedule monthly meetings with the students. Teach the representatives good leadership qualities by having workshops and mentors from the Enoree Career Center.
Goal # 5: Allow interested parents to become a part of the Parent Advisory Group. These parents would meet once a month to help develop strategies to help our students and faculty reach their goals. They will also have some leadership training workshops.
How Will The Goals Be Assessed?
Goal # 1: Set up a schedule for academic assistance. We will record the number of students coming before school, during lunch, or after school for academic help. The students will be asked to complete an End of Year Survey to see if the academic assistance program worked.
Goal # 2: We will calculate the number of days the students attended school to determine if we increased our attendance rate.
Goal # 3: We will count the number of students who passed at least 6 units for the year. The students will complete a survey to assess the effectiveness of the incentives of the 95% attendance club.
Goal # 4: The students will take a survey to see how effective the student representative group worked as well as the workshops.
Goal # 5: Members of the parent advisory group will complete a survey to determine the effectiveness of the Star Academy Parent Advisory Group.