MODESTO -- Beyer High's AdvancePath Academy will be honored this month by the National Dropout Prevention Network for its success in keeping kids in school.
The program was announced Monday as one of two nationwide to earn the network's Crystal Star Award. Terri Salaiz, head teacher in the Beyer program, will travel to Orlando, Fla., for the Oct. 16 ceremony.
AdvancePath last year served 237 Modesto high school students, most of them seniors starting one to two years behind in credits and well on their way to being another dropout statistic.
In traditional classes, the chances of students so far behind making it to graduation "are pretty slim," Salaiz said Monday. "They run out of options at a regular site. Here, they're only limited by their own pace."
The program puts 150 students online at a time, moving swiftly through classes they flunked the first time around and on to senior year classes. Some students take an additional half-year, graduating in January, making room for other students to catch up. A waiting list of 35 seniors and eight to 10 juniors is hoping for those spots, Salaiz said.
Of last year's 237 students, 135 graduated with a full Beyer diploma. Most walked at the traditional school ceremony, indistinguishable from those who went through without academic missteps.
Seventy are back this year, plugging away toward the midyear ceremony. A dozen returned to other Modesto high schools to graduate with their classes, leaving only a few who failed to negotiate the long odds to success.
The program's dropout rate, in fact, is less than half the 18 percent dropout rate of the Modesto district as a whole.
Attendance at the program averages about 90 percent, another measure of success for teens whose prior high school years, many readily admit, were notable for their absence.
The National Dropout Prevention Network, housed at Clemson University in Clemson, S.C., acts as a clearinghouse on issues related to dropout prevention and offers strategies to increase graduation rates.
Bee education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2339.