The Herald Bulletin
The graduation rate at Anderson High School has risen steeply since 2010. It could rise even higher, thanks to an alternative school that will open in August.
Early this month, the Anderson Community Schools Board of Trustees approved a partnership with The Crossing, which has 16 campuses across the state and serves high school students at risk of dropping out. According to Rob Staley, executive director of the alternative school, 89 percent of students who graduate directly from The Crossing meet ISTEP+ standards and End of Course Assessments. Just 54 percent of AHS students passed ECA in 2011-12, and a paltry 41 percent passed ISTEP+ that school year.
The Crossing’s impressive credentials could help AHS boost its graduation rate higher. The rate is already on the rise, from a meager 57 percent of students in the class of 2009-10 to a respectable 85 percent last school year.
Think of The Crossing as a safety net to catch a healthy share of the 15 percent who are still falling short of graduation. Many of these kids have behavioral problems, immaturity and a lack of focus on the future. They often have suffered neglect or violence. Staley said during an information session on April 15 at the Flagship in Anderson that some Crossing students in larger cities “shoot at each other on the weekend and sit in the same classroom on Monday.”
These are the sort of kids who may have a world of potential, but they’re already headed for a life of crime. Many end up wasting away behind prison bars while citizens pay for their room and board. Yet many have the ability deep within them to excel in school and maybe even go on to a much different kind of room and board — at college.
The Crossing may or may not work here in Anderson, and ACS officials should keep a close eye on the institution to assure it is delivering on its promise to give troubled AHS students another chance to succeed. Anderson University and its students are getting involved, too. They’ll work with The Crossing students to develop ideas for entrepreneurial enterprises to address local needs.
No site has yet been determined for the physical location of the Anderson campus of The Crossing, which is set to open Aug. 1. But officials say the alternative school will be set up to meet the needs of as many as 75 students. If all 75 of those were to graduate, it would raise the local rate significantly, helping herald a new era in local education.
The Crossing’s impressive credentials in helping troubled students could help Anderson High School boost its graduation rate higher.