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COAST, CENTRAL, AND NORTHWEST CITIES : CYPRESS

Intervention Plan Helps Students Get Up to Speed

About 135 of 400 elementary kids who took part will be held back. They will repeat a grade this year.

August 01, 2000|ALEX KATZ | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Last fall, the Cypress School District gave some bad news to parents of about 400 elementary school students.

The students--about one-eighth of the all-elementary school district's population--were not performing at their grade levels in one or more basic subjects. If the students didn't improve soon, they were in danger of repeating a year.

After months of intensive intervention programs, about 135 district students--most in kindergarten and first grade--will repeat a grade when school starts in September, district officials said.

Supt. William D. Eller said the majority of the students in danger of flunking last fall were brought up to par by a program that offers extra time with teachers during and after school and encourages parents to tutor their children at home.

Districts around the state developed similar programs over the last school year after the state set mandatory requirements for passing each grade. Students must now earn minimum scores on the SAT 9 test and keep their grades at a certain level to be promoted to the next grade.

Despite having participated in Cypress' intervention program, some students will still benefit from repeating a grade, Eller said.

"We've been working with the parents all year to come to the conclusion that it's in their child's best interest to be retained in the early grades, so [the child] can get the skills necessary to succeed in the later grades," Eller said.

But retention might not always have the desired effect, he said.

Forcing students to repeat grades is "a fairly new concept," Eller said. "Until we live [with] this for a couple of years, it's going to be hard to know exactly what the outcomes will be."

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Alex Katz can be reached at (714) 966-5977.

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